I am a huge scaredy-pants. As a kid, I changed the channel as soon as Are You Afraid of the Dark came on TV. I steered clear away from the Goosebumps books at the library. In jr. high, I shook violently all through The Ring 2. When my friends decided to watch Saw at a high school sleepover, I spent most of the next two hours with my head under a blanket. For the next week, I slept with a night light. I scare easily, and I don’t like being scared. For this reason, I’ve never read a horror novel.
That said, 2014 is my Year of Reading Adventurously. I’ve read a romance novel and a graphic novel… so why not try a horror novel as well? When Wensend and Fourth Street Review announced King’s March, a month-long Stephen King reading event, I decided that now was the time to step outside of my comfort zone and read something scary. I chose to try The Shining because I’ve seen the movie (I actually love it, despite my usual aversion to anything scary) and I thought the book would be less scary if I already knew the story.
When I announced on Twitter that I was about to start The Shining, I got quite a few “keep ALL the lights on” messages. But you know what? I was never really scared. Horror movies really get to me with their mood-setting music and the ability to actually SEE the scary things that are happening. Reading about scary things happening didn’t bother me at all, though. Sure, it was creepy, but I never felt like I needed to lock the door or check to make sure the trees outside weren’t moving on their own.
At first I thought, ‘maybe I’m not scared because I know what’s coming.’ But the book is VERY different from the movie, and there were a lot of spooky scenes that I didn’t know were coming. I just felt distant from what was happening. I also wasn’t impressed by King’s writing. It felt kind of clunky, and I couldn’t really sink into it. Perhaps the constant POV switching also kept me at a distance. Whatever the cause, I wasn’t scared. There were a few heart-pounding suspenseful scenes, but that was about it.
For those of you who read horror or are familiar with King’s work, what’s your take on this book or reading horror in general? Did I just pick a bad book to read?