I’m a huge horror fan, but am very picky about horror books. There are lots of great horror movies out there, but I always think there are far fewer great horror novels. Horror seems to work better as a short story or novella when written, for some reason, perhaps just because it’s hard to build and maintain tension for the entirety of a novel.
But King? He tends to know what he’s doing when it comes to writing horror, even if he is often bad at endings. The Shining is, I think, the very best example of his talent. I’ve read this book at least 8 times, and wrote a long and in-depth paper on it once in college, and yet I STILL get tense reading it, even when I know what’s going to happen yet. The only King book that has scared me more was Rose Madder, and that’s simply for personal reasons. The Shining is a study in combining slow dread with shocking, surprising moments of pure terror. When you read the book, you feel the evil of The Overlook around you. There’s a scene in Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon of Lyndon sitting with his small son under a wall covered in huge paintings: it feels oppressive, all these things larger than the two characters just above their heads, taking up all the space and air nearby, and I always wish Kubrick had put something similar in his adaptation of The Shining, because it so encapsulates the feeling of the book.
Anyway, this is required reading for horror fans.