Finally available on audio CD, The Shining by Stephen King (“The Dark Tower” series, The Stand, Insomnia, The Talisman, Bag Of Bones, Christine, Misery) is the preeminent haunted house story. Okay, it’s a haunted hotel, but it’s still damned scary. Jack Torrance, a struggling writer and former alcoholic (on the wagon for fourteen months) takes a maintenance job at the Overlook Hotel in Colorado. The job entails being there for six months in complete isolation with his family - wife Wendy, and their seemingly troubled son, Danny. Soon the Overlook gets a stranglehold on Jack, and Wendy and Danny are fighting for their lives.
The fact is this: without the book, there would have been no movie, so you have to give credit where credit is due. But that being said, the audio book (which is essentially saying “the book”) and the movie are vastly different. The intensity that Jack Nicholson brought to the role of Jack Torrance is not present here, though Campbell Scott’s voice fits the written material well. Also, in my humble opinion, the score of the movie was just as much a star in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining as the actors were. Penderecki’s music, along with Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkinds reinterpretation of Dies Irae (day of wrath), which is such a haunting and appropriate death march, are sorely missed Wishful thinking of getting Jack Nicholson to read The Shining, as Sissy Spacek did with Carrie, might have been just that – wishful thinking. There is nothing wrong with Scott’s reading, but the inevitable comparisons to such an iconic film are omnipresent. It’s not the movie, but it’s not supposed to be.
Overall, The Shining audio book version is a solid audio presentation, richly rewarding to fans of the book. Those seeking the same intensity that Kubrick and Nicholson brought to the film will be disappointed. There are some great moments of King’s storytelling ability that shine (I had to go for it) that do not appear in the movie, thus making a listen (or a read) a worthy endeavor.