I reread this on audio, narrated by Campbell Scott. I was a kid when I read it the first time and it helped solidify my lifelong love of the horror genre. I hoped it would be as scary as I remembered.
Knowing what I now know about Jack after reading Doctor Sleep (if you haven’t read it, you should) helped give me a different slant on his character making him a wee bit more sympathetic instead of the flat out villain I remembered. It also helped that he wasn’t actually written as an unhinged loon from the get go but as a flawed man struggling to keep his family afloat and intact while he battled with the dangerous demons of addiction, anger and regret. I had forgotten all of that or it likely went over my head when I first read it and Jack Nicholson’s performance lingered in my brain instead. Wendy is a better character in the book, for certain, because we get her inner thoughts instead of all of the endless screaming and Danny was such a wise little boy which makes sense considering his gift/curse. I didn’t catch that on the first read because I had never been around kids his age.
It’s most definitely a frightening book but in a very different way than the film. Much of the horror is internal with the dread and ghosts of the hotel slowly creeping up on you rather than smacking you in the face with their presence (and floppy boobs!). I enjoyed all of the backstory of the hotel (even dog-man is there!) and there’s quite a bit of it and the sense of utter isolation and helplessness amidst the storm is terrifying.
My 12 year old self would’ve given it a five. My grumpy, grown up self gives it 4 ½. Campbell Scott is an excellent narrator and does a low-key performance that doesn’t over-exaggerate the scenes or dialogue which worked for me.