Halloween is here, and while the theaters are littered with easy-scare movies like Paranormal Activity 3, there’s not much spook in the literary world worth mentioning. But then again, the scariest books (and movies) are the ones so good you can return to them time and time again—getting to the scary parts that you know by heart, but are still so vivid you have to put the book face-down and out of eyesight for a little while, just so you have a chance to call a loved one to make sure there is still happiness in the world.
In honor of the night when the living and dead cross paths, I thought I’d recommend one of the books that has a left lasting imprint of terror on my psyche—but in a good way: The Shining.
I know it’s not fashionable to call Stephen King literary, and I’d agree that everything he’s written in the last 20 years has been a bit over-the-top, but The Shining, written in 1977, is one terrifying and well-written novel. Though the film gained more notoriety due to the famous director (Stanley Kubrick) and star (Jack Nicholson) attached, the source material is a study in pacing. And also why you shouldn’t stay in an old, creepy hotel in the off-season.
Jack Torrance, an alcoholic author with writer’s block and a novel to complete, decides to become caretaker of said hotel. Let’s just say right now that the hotel itself is not so innocent in this whole deal. Jack and his family, which consists of a nervous-yet-supportive wife and a clairvoyant son who can see ghosts, settle in during the winter season.
Inevitably they get snowed in, and, less inevitably, Jack gets possessed and tries to kill everyone. Prior to the possession, Jack had something of a rage issue. The Shining also features ghostly old parties, twins, roque mallets and lots of sharp things—in other words, all the hallmarks of an amazing tale.