“When Stephen King announced he was to publish a sequel to his novel The Shining, the hearts of fans gave as many lurches as leaps. The Shining (1977) is one of the most cherished and well known of King’s novels, partly due to the Stanley Kubrick movie adaptation. Sequels are often disappointing and King’s output has not been consistently good for a while. An author is in trouble when publishers routinely use ‘a return to form’ press quotes on his dust jackets.
“In The Shining, troubled Jack Torrance accepts the position of hotel caretaker as a last resort after losing his teaching job. He, his wife Wendy and son Danny move into the isolated mountain hotel to maintain it while it is cut off by winter snow. Gradually, the evil presence of the hotel works to terrify the child and unhinge the father until conflict erupts in violence and madness.
“King’s two great talents are for inventing memorable characters and coming up with intriguing premises. His best work tends to rely on simple conceits which are followed to their logical conclusions with as little deviation as possible: what if a novelist were kidnapped by a psychotic fan (Misery); what if four boys went to find a dead body (The Body/Stand by Me); what if a supermarket were suddenly surrounded by a mist infested by monsters (The Mist)? In Pet Sematary, King’s most disturbing novel, the premise is ‘what if a grieving man were able to resurrect his dead son?’. It is a brilliant study of harrowing grief and misguided, lunatic hope, with the supernatural merely providing a framework which allows the drama to unfold…”
Read the full review on SPIKED 4 October 2013 here: