‘The Shining’ isn’t scaring in the blood spattering way, it’s scary because you have this strong urge to dissociate from Jacks darkest and most insane feelings and thoughts, but King makes you realise, that you have them in you, yourself. WE ALL HAVE!

by Peter


‘The Shining’


Stephen King



Reading Level:


First Published:


Publisher, this copy:

Anchor books, Random House

Feelings Thermometer:

Jack Torrance has a lot of pressure on his shoulders, when he moves into the large hotel ‘The Overlook’ in the Colorado mountains with his son Danny and his wife Wendy.

Due to the heavy snow that falls in the area — it just a matter of time when it sets in — there are no hotel guests or employees in the ‘The Overlooks’ winter season, and that’s exactly why Jack’s there: he’s supposed to be the hotels only caretaker, and employee, until spring.

Jack has a history of drinking which has lead to several episodes where he lost his temper, that again made him lose his well paid job as a teacher. Also he has had several writer blocks, so his dream of being a famous writer only has resulted in a couple of paid short stories.

So the desolate job at ‘The Overlook’ is not Jacks first choice, it’s actually his last chance to pull it together for Wendy and especially his favorite, little Danny. After moving in at the old hotel, three thoughts are constantly on Jack’s mind:

He can’t start drinking again!
He can’t lose his temper anymore!
And he has to finish his new manuscript!

But little Danny also has problems. Tony — the boy who his parents think is his secret and invisible friend, which he’s not — has followed Danny to the silent and desolate hotel, and when he shows himself to Danny, it’s no longer fun things he reveals, like it used to be.

And even though it’s an impossible secret to bear — to see scary things, when you’re just five years old — Danny has to, because his parents won’t be glad to hear that Tony’s still there.

Danny knows that for sure, because he’s shining – he can read other peoples feels and thoughts.

From the sane to the insane

There are creepy, dead people in ‘The Shining’ — Stephen Kings modern classic that was also adapted to movie in 1980 starring Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance — and they gave me the shivers. But the real danger in this famous horror novel is when Stephen King makes you doze off to emotional stories about the characters rough childhoods and you start to relate to them. Because when you first have compassion for both Jack, Wendy and little Danny, King transform their safe and sane surroundings to an insane world full of the old childhood fears, that we all still are carrying around inside us, even though we’re grown ups.

Excerpt from ‘The Shining’

“Red drum og red rum?”
“I don’t know.”
“Yes, sir?”
“Can you make Tony come now?”
“I don’t know. He doesn’t always come. I don’t even know if I want him to come anymore.”
“Try, Danny. I’ll be right here.”
Danny looked at Edmonds doubtfully. Edmonds nodded encouragement.
Danny let out a long, sighing breath and nodded.
“But I don’t know if it will work. I never did it with anyone looking at me before. And Tony doesn’t always come, anyway.”
“If he doesn’t, he doesn’t,” Edmonds said. “I just want you to try.”
He droppede his gaze to Edmond’s slowly swinging loafers and cast his mind outward toward his mommy and daddy. They were here someplace … right beyond the wall with the picture on it, as a matter of fact. In the waiting room where they had come in. Sitting side by side but not talking. Leafing through magazines. Worried. About him.
He concentrated harder, his brow furrowing, trying to get into the feeling of his mommy’s thoughts. It was always harder when they weren’t right there in the room with him. Then he began to get it. Mommy was thinking about a sister. Her sister. The sister was dead.

I was the caretaker of the Overlook Hotel

Jacks hard background with alcohol was hard to relate to, but I absolutely loved the idea to get a job as a lonely caretaker in a desolate hotel in Colorado, just before the embracing winter and snow sets in. And when the first blizzard hits, there are now way out and no one that can get up to you in the mountains to help you out. In my world, that is the perfect plot. I was Jack, I was the caretaker of the Overlook Hotel. And I felt responsible. But I also felt little Dannys urge to explore all the exciting levels, rooms and elevators in the odd hotel. Most of all the forbidden room 217!

Under hypnosis

To me, the journey was like being under hypnosis. First, I felt very comfortable, like I was on a unforgettable winter holiday in Colorado. When King had my trust, he pushed me down the road of insanity. First a tiny little push, then a little more, and suddenly I felt so dizzy that I couldn’t really tell, what to hold on to. King mixed up my worst childhood memories with my worst fears in an embracing nightmare. And finally, when it couldn’t get worse – it did!

‘The Shining’ is a story that really creeps up on you, until you’re almost ready for the psychiatric ward. It’s not just Jack’s insane story, it revives your own traumatic experiences, too. And one thing’s for sure: It takes you on a trip to the Colorado high country that you’ll never forget!