Dearest Joey: Putting it in the freezer didn’t make me feel safer.

Posted February 8, 2013 by in Book Reviews / 55 Comments

Dearest Joey: Putting it in the freezer didn’t make me feel safer.The Shining by Stephen King
Published by Heinemann, Octopus on 1981 (orig. 1977)
Genres: Fiction, Horror
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 308
Source: library

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This book…THIS BOOK…really did a number on me. Holy smokes.

In case you’re not familiar with the story:

Jack Torrance is an aspiring author and newly recovering alcoholic who has just lost his job as a teacher at a prep school. When the story starts, he is interviewing for a job as the winter caretaker for an isolated hotel in the Colorado Rockies called the Overlook. He gets the job, which means that he, Wendy (his wife), and Danny (his son) will have to spend the winter by themselves in the hotel. What Jack doesn’t know when he takes the job is that the Overlook has a lot of bad history and a lot of nasty ghosts. The Overlook has absorbed the evil of the bad deeds done there, and now it wants Danny…because Danny has very powerful second sight (“the shine”), and the hotel wants Danny’s psychic power. BAD THINGS HAPPEN.

The larger book is split up into five smaller “books” that break up the action, so I decided to read a “book” per day. BIG MISTAKE. I should have just dug in and read it over two or three days. Why? Because being anxiety-ridden for five days is NOT THE BUSINESS. Seriously. For five days my chest was tight, my throat hurt, I didn’t sleep well, and I was just generally on edge. The Shining affected me that much. I have NEVER been this freaked out by a book before–not even when I read some of King’s books as an early teen. I was freaked out from day one. No exaggeration. I even tried putting it in the freezer. I did not feel safer.

The Shining in the freezerThis did not make me feel safer. At all. All I could think about were the germs from the library book crawling all over the food.

Lots of things in The Shining scared the crap out of me, but specifically:

1. Danny’s nightmares/visions: I already have nasty nightmares all the time, and I don’t need a book to suggest that they might mean something, or that they might be things that could really happen, or that I might bring some nasty dream-monster back with me when I wake up (this last one doesn’t happen in the book, but that’s the way my thoughts progress). Yeah, yeah, I know–irrational thinking at its finest. But all rational thoughts disappear when I wake up in the middle of the night, in the dark, scared out of my wits, with my heart pounding and my chest heaving like I just ran a 400-yard dash.

2. I don’t know why, but this FREAKED ME OUT until I figured out what it meant (100 pages into the story because I’m slow):redrumgif

3. Animal topiary, the playground, a combination of the two: I will never, ever, ever look at animal topiary the same way again. Not ever. Also, I have never been a fan of small spaces on playgrounds, even as a kid, and NOW I KNOW WHY. Ugh. If I ever come across a playground that has animal topiary in it or around it, I will immediately turn around and run away screaming. Or…I’ll run backwards really fast while keeping my eyes on the topiary AT ALL TIMES.

4. The alcoholism and domestic violence stuff just made me angry and depressed, and left me feeling generally icky. Enough said.


But you know what? I really liked The Shining. The writing and the story were so good. I often read books that make me feel some kind of way, but rarely do I come across a book that makes me feel like this one did. I was really worked up for five days, and I told sj that I would need a couple of days to relax and breathe before we move on to Night Shift (that includes the story “Children of the Corn,” the movie adaptation of which really traumatized me). Aside from the horror of it all, there were a lot of thought-provoking ideas/theories in the book about nature vs. nurture and the things that get passed down within families from generation to generation. I don’t know that I’ll be rereading The Shining anytime soon (or ever again), but I’m glad that I finally read it…and I’m glad that it’s finally over.

**sj decided not to (re)read this one with me, for good reason. She very bravely writes about her reasons why, here.

Stephen King button


  • LOL!! This was so great! This review captures ALL OF MY FEELZ.
    I have to review it for a little art collective’s blog in a few days, and I really just want to link yours instead. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m going to link it anyway and instead just write a recommendation for the trilogy of books that I got for the low ($8, huzzah) from B&N.

    Man, I laughed so hard…. but then… the terror. I’m gonna finish my copy of The Shining today.

  • The gifs! Ha, love them! I honestly can’t remember if I’ve read this one or not. I think I may be confusing my memories of it with the movie. (Which I’ve heard is crap compared to the book so…) I really should grab a copy of this sucker and give it a whirl. In case I haven’t read it? Gawd, my memory is awful.

    • I watched the movie around 20 years ago, and the book made me realize just how much I don’t remember from the movie. My movie memories were getting all jumbled in my head. Eric and I are going to watch the movie again soon, but I think I need to watch it during the day. Haha!

    • The movie is very different from the book. It’s cool cinematically, but Kubrick took serious liberties with the story.

  • sj

    And there is a SEQUEL coming out either late this year, or next year, about Danny as an adult.

    The gifs cracked me up. Good job with those.

    • I KNOW. I want to read the sequel right now, honestly.

      Hee! Thanks!

      Somebody get me a copy when it comes out!!! I sometimes wonder why I like Stephen King’s books so much. So scary yet sooooo good! Gotta admit, never thought of hiding a book in the freezer before. Interesting choice ๐Ÿ˜›

      • I know! As much as this book screwed me up, I want to read the sequel right now.

        And King may be freaking me out, but I must admit that I’m enjoying myself. ๐Ÿ™‚

        • Hey, I hear there’s going to be a sequel! Did you know?

          • You are a smart ass, which is one of the many things I like about you. Hahaha!

            I KNOW!!!

          • ๐Ÿ™‚ Srsly, though, I’m adding this book to my “to read” list. But first, “Rage,” which finally came in at the library.

          • Oh, good! Looking forward to chatting with you about them.

      • sj

        Yes, called Doctor Sleep.

  • Awesome review, Heather. This is why I love King so much. He’s one of the few authors I’ve read who can really get inside my head and scare the bejesus out of me. He can still do it, too. “A Good Marriage” in Full Dark No Stars actually had me pondering the idea of it. My husband wondered why I was looking at him funny.

    • Hahaha! I’ll have to remember this when I get to Full Dark. ๐Ÿ˜€

  • When I was a teenager, I came home from a friend’s house where we had watched this movie. I walked in to my house and looked right down the long hallway, where at the end were two little girls in nightgowns emerging from the shadows. To be honest, I screamed and started to cry a little. Turns out, my little sister (about 8 at the time?) had a friend over and they heard me coming in and wanted to say hi. But the sight of them in the shadows was enough to traumatize me for life.

    • Hahaha! Oh my goodness! I probably would have passed out. What a “funny” coincidence. Wow.

  • Um – I can’t even read the review I’m laughing to hard at the .gifs! And to be honest it started with the cover because I was like, “Wait what?!?, Why’s Heather on the cover (bottom corner)?” And then I saw the gifs and just started laughing.

    • Haaaahahahaha! She does kind of look like me when she’s all blurry, doesn’t she? That’s hilarious.

      • Haahaa I thought you might’ve photoshopped yourself in there after the gifs!

        • No!!! But I can see why you’d think so, for sure!

  • I hope you got my last comment. I can’t tell.

  • Hee, I loved this post! The gifs are wonderful.

    I love the movie adaptation, but I haven’t read the book because I can’t deal with horror things — I am the biggest pansy — except that the movie didn’t make me freak out after I finished watching it, somehow. I don’t know if I could handle multiple days of immersion into this world? But maybe I should read it; I’ll never know if I can read scary things if I don’t try, right?

    • Well, in all fairness, everyone I know says the book is much scarier than the movie, so…proceed with caution. Yes, I was really freaked out, but I also enjoyed myself and the story.

  • Yay, your gifs! I giggled and giggled!

    Also, I love that you put it right in the freezer. That made me grin. Nice job with that. Even though it was TOO EVIL FOR THE FREEZER!

    • Hee! Thanks!

      The freezer just cannot contain the evil Overlook. Sigh.

  • I had seen the Kubrick film version of the movie a few times before I actually read the book when I was a sophomore in highschool. My mother was a single mom at the time and worked until 5pm. So, home alone after school, I sat in the kitchen and started reading. After the first few chapters, I was so scared, I had to go outside and sit on the front stoop of our semi-busy street in order to continue. I was just too terrified, too creeped out to read it alone. Being out in the hussle and bustle of the neighborhood got me through the book. I loved it and read it again! I went on to read The Amityville Horror, Carrie, Salems’ Lot, and other creepy books that made me sleep with the lights on. Thanks for bringing back that great reading memory!

    • Thank you for sharing it with me!

      I grew up in an old farm-style house that made lots of creaking noises and stuff. I could never read scary books at night in that house, but I was still freaked out at night anyway. Haha!

  • Yes!!! I love that you put it in the freezer like joey did! That’s my safety blanket whenever a book scares me, too (ahem, Salems Lot). Great review!

  • I was just watching ‘Friends’ and had to share this: Monica burst through the door and Rachel picked up a kitchen utensil to protect herself because she was reading ‘The Shining’

    • HAAAHAHAHA! I remember that!

      • 10 minutes later they put a book in the freezer ๐Ÿ™‚

        • Yep! Hahaha! I really miss that show.

          • Well it’s on TBS every day and Nick at Night every night ๐Ÿ™‚

          • I don’t watch much TV–I never think to turn it on. What I really need to do is buy all the seasons on DVD so I can watch them whenever I feel like it.

  • This review is so great! It’s both managed to really put me off reading The Shinning and made me desperately want to read it too! I’ll read it in the summer (things are a lot less scary in the summer!) when I know my boyfriend will be around ALL the time. It definitely doesn’t sound like the sort of book to read on my own in the flat!
    Funnily enough I was talking to my brother the other day about Stephen King. He’s been reading some of his work recently and thinks I’d like them (I’ve only read the one about the girl in the woods – can’t remember the name – and The Dreamcatcher, which I had mixed feelings about). My brother is recommending IT and The Stand, but I think I might just wait for you to read a few more and pick the one I like the sound of most!

    • I’ll be starting The Stand soon! Everybody who loves King keeps admonishing me for not having read it yet. I’m looking forward to it.

      I’m not a huge fan of horror (it does bad things for my sleep), but I absolutely LOVE King’s Dark Tower series, which is more fantasy than anything. It’s my all-time favorite series. It’s so good.

  • Reblogged this on Into the Mouth of Madness.

  • I’m proud of you for sticking with it!!!!!!

  • FABULOUS review! I am so glad that I listened to this AND that I limited myself to only during DAYLIGHT. But I wasn’t as affected as I feared I would be. I am still glad I read it and had the fun of a readalong!

    • Thanks!

      Yes…I REALLY need to hold myself to the only-during-daylight rule.

      I just finished Night Shift yesterday, and will be starting The Stand soon.

  • I know!!!! Those topiary animals were just plan terrifying! Honestly I didn’t think this one would scare me as much as it did. I’d seen the movie a long time ago, so I thought I wouldn’t be too surprised, but it definitely still got me. I love your pics by the way!

  • This is exactly how I remember feeling when I read this book in my 20’s when I was on a King reading jag. I don’t know that I believe in ghosts and evil but I don’t NOT believe in them and that makes the idea of reading a book about them is scary stuff.

    • I don’t know why I get so wigged out by this stuff–I certainly don’t believe in possession…or hotels that want to kill people. I’m just really good at suspending disbelief when I’m reading, I guess, and my natural propensity for empathy rockets off the charts. (This is what I’m assuming, anyway.)

      Whatever the case, I’m a total wuss. Haha!

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  • First-I love the title of your blog post! I’m a huge Friends fan. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Second-kudos to you for even reading it ! I don’t think that I could. I’m a scaredy cat ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thanks! ๐Ÿ™‚

      I’m a pretty big scaredy-cat, myself. I’m proud of myself for reading it, too. Hahaha!

  • Pingback: February 2013 Reading Wrap-Up and March Plans | Between the Covers()

  • Well, I’m finally here and I read your review! Great! I really liked this one too, but it didn’t scare me as much as you, well, except for the topiary animals and the playground. Now that was scary! And yeah, the domestic violence and alcoholism was not a pleasure, as I’ve dealt with both on some level in the past.

    I love your images too. You are just too funny. ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Heather your face in those gifs!!! Lol! Great review but it futher confirms I cant read any Stephen King any time soon!

  • Now all my questions are answered that I asked on Charleen’s site and my own! Nevermind!! I should have read your post first before replying on both of those!

    I thought I had been following your blog all this time, but I wasn’t! ๐Ÿ™ It is now fixed, so I will be stopping by more frequently!

    I am really curious what you will think about Doctor Sleep, to see if you think it is just as scary. Same with me!

    • Hahaha! I just answered you on Charleen’s blog anyway. I forgot to subscribe the the comments on your post, so I’ll go see what you asked there, too. Heh.