The Shining: A hotel’s guardians and restless dead, and the power of a little boy’s mind

The Shining: A hotel’s guardians and restless dead, and the power of a little boy’s mind

Some readers may be tempted to brush off reading this book for the first time, as a prelude to reading Stephen King’s new sequel, Doctor Sleep, because they have already seen the movie. That would be a huge mistake, especially if they consider themselves true fans of this genre. As is almost always the case, the book is much better, and in this instance, far more terrifying and psychologically probing than the movie. The Shining pulls the reader into the psyche of Jack Torrance, the protagonist, and into an understanding that borders on his defense from the very beginning. It is almost easy to sympathize with him through his alcohol addiction and recovery, and the events of his childhood that led to it. But King changes hands to his wife Wendy, his son Danny, and later to Dick Hallorann, and gives us a very well rounded view of their individual and collective struggles against each other and their own inner demons. It’s no wonder that the terrifying ghosts of the Overlook Hotel in Colorado (where Jack acts as caretaker throughout most of the novel) are so drawn to this family-they are all powerful characters with whom it is easy to identify at least some element of self, or at least sympathize with their deficiencies.  Their fears become ours as the novel progresses and their thoughts are laid bare for us to fear as well. Even the absolute terror of a child playing in an abandoned playground with something lurking in its dark, snowy shadows, or the screeching of an empty elevator moving unaided up and down the hotel floors become absolutely unnerving to the reader who dares turn the pages of this macabre tale at night. King’s references to Poe’s “Mask of the Red Death” are a perfect prelude to the even more horrifying tale he has written. The Shining causes the reader to wonder long after the the last cover is closed, about our own possible “shinings”, and to second-guess what haunts we might have experienced in our own world.

Similar Book Recommendations:

If this book intrigued you and you want to continue reading the story, Stephen King recently wrote a sequel from the perspective of an adult Danny called Doctor Sleep.

For more book recommendations, visit:

The Recipe:

I chose this recipe because the smell of oranges accompanied each of Dick Hallorann’s “shinings,” but especially the ones with Danny. This cake is also made with butter and milk- a couple staples in the pantry, a point of discussion among Danny, Hallorann, and Wendy, as well as something Wendy and Danny go to the store to pick up during one of their first deeply honest conversations as they drive back up to the hotel. Finally, this recipe has an orange liqueur called Grand Marnier, and orange juice, to give it a real orange flavor that’s still balanced and sweet.

  • granulated sugar
  • salted butter
  • orange marmalade
  • all-purpose flour
  • baking powder
  • Greek yogurt or sour cream
  •  orange zest
  • orange juice
  • orange extract, (optional)
  • large eggs

For the full recipe and instructions, visit:

Discussion Questions:

  1. Wendy “thought that to children adult motives and actions must seem as bulking and ominous as dangerous animals seen in the shadows of a dark forest. They were jerked about like puppets, having only the vaguest notions why.” Do you think this could be true, or perhaps are adult motives not given much those by children, and only seen as frustrating when different from the child’s?
  2. In thinking back on her feelings and moods, Wendy describes them in terms of colors” “The way she had felt yesterday or last night or this morning…They were all different, they crossed the spectrum from rosy pink to dead black.” How often do we ascribe colors to our feelings, and why do we? (Bonus question, if you’ve read Stephen King’s Insomnia, how do these color feelings relate to our auras?)

For more discussion questions, visit


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