When Jack Torrance is offered the job of caretaker of the Overlook Hotel, high in the Colorado mountains, over the winter period when the hotel is closed, he thinks it might be just what he and his family need. Jack and his wife Wendy have been experiencing problems in their marriage, due to his alcoholism and temper – which caused him to lose his previous job as a teacher – and their 5 year old son Danny is caught in the middle.
When they meet the hotel cook Dick Hallorann, Dick immediately recognises that like him, Danny has ‘the shine’ – a gift (or curse) that enables him to see what people are thinking and witness events that happened years earlier, or haven’t happened at all yet.
Stuck in the hotel with nobody but each other for company, the huge snowdrifts prevent anybody from getting in or out of The Overlook grounds. But they soon find that there is a malevolent force at work – one that wants to hurt the family and won’t let them escape. Will they get out with their sanity – or their lives?…
There’s no doubt that Stephen King can tell a good story. He draws the reader in from the first page, and makes them always eager to know what’s going to happen next. For the most part, there are only the three main characters in the book (except for the hotel itself, which does have a sinister and ominous presence). This adds to the claustrophobic atmosphere, which keeps building throughout.
Jack and Wendy’s characters were well developed; Jack is a man struggling with his own demons, a recovering alcoholic and a man who struggles with his temper, albeit he loves his family very much. Wendy is caught in a trap between the man she loves and doing what she thinks is right for her family and her anguish is well depicted. Danny was less well drawn, although this did not detract from the story.
I didn’t find the book scary, but it was an absorbing read. I couldn’t help feeling that if it had been perhaps 75 pages shorter, it might have been a ‘tighter’ read, but overall this was an enjoyable book. If it was an author I was trying for the first time (it isn’t), I would be encouraged to read another book by them. I would recommend this book, but only to fans of the author or the genre.
(Author’s website can be found here.)