The author of this next book is one I’ve loved since middle school, and one who every reader is guaranteed to know. Say what you want about Stephen King’s rapid fire horror novels, but he IS a modern horror genius. It’s easy for a movie to scare the bejeesus out of you: have a guy jump out of a dark corner with a knife, show a little girl projectile vomiting 360 degrees around a room and gibbering hellspawn…but the mechanisms of horror at work within a book are much more complicated. When they’re done badly, or even adequately, it’s not always scary (whereas in a movie it’s pretty easy to get the audience to jump), but when when it’s done right it can be way more terrifying than any movie.
Let me explain what King’s “The Shining” did to me while I was reading it a few weeks ago. Firstly, it made me sleep with both the closet and bathroom doors wide open because I wanted to be able to glance in them at will and assure myself that there was nothing unnatural inside. Secondly, it made me wake up at 5:30 every morning for an entire week so I could have two extra hours to read it each day before work, and lastly, it had the ability to give me goosebumps in broad daylight in a crowded coffee shop.
Stephen King knows exactly what we all are afraid of; that niggling feeling that something you don’t want to see is behind a closed door, or that you thought you heard your name being called faintly behind your ear, and yet the room is empty. In “The Shining,” like us, a little boy tells himself that all of these things are just within his imagination, only to find that they’re not. King is an expert in creeping horror, in slipping small instances of terror or unease into where you least expect them to be, causing you doubt the safety of things you used to think were safe.
In short, “The Shining” scared the crap out of me, and I recommend it to all horror fans everywhere.