Godzilla has Mothra, Freddy Krueger has Jason Voorhees, Sheldon Cooper has Wil Wheaton, now Rose the Hat O’Hara has Abra the Bitchgirl Stone in a rather unique adversarial relationship brought to you by the incomparable Stephen King. A literal clash of the telepathic titans; this is the kind of stuff that cross country good vs evil wars are built upon. One party is trying to prolong their stay on earth through the demise of the lives of the far-seeing, while the other is trying to harness their tremendous powers in order to get justice for a young man unjustly killed for truly selfish reasons. Which one will come out on top?
A story that spans thirty-two years starting from the Torrance family’s exit from the now condemned Overlook Hotel in Colorado when Danny was a young lad in 1981. To Florida where Wendy and Danny tried their best to resume their lives after the tragic events that fateful night that saw their lives forever changed. To Wilmington, North Carolina where Dan has flown the coop in search for his own identity and a clearer path for the rest of his life. All the way to Dan’s life as it currently stands in 2013 at forty-years-old in the sleepy town or ‘teenytown’ of Frazier, New Hampshire. As much as things have changed there is one glaring situation with Dan that has endured and has reconciled the commonalities that he shares with his dead father; more than he would care to admit.
“The rational part of his mind told him she was just a fragment of unremembered bad dream that had followed him out of sleep and across the hall to the bathroom. That part insisted that if he opened the door again, there would be nothing there. Surely there wouldn’t be, now that he was awake. But another part of him, a part that shone, knew better. The Overlook wasn’t done with him.”
Dan has resorted to alcoholism in order to keep the visions away. Dan believes that the mind was the vehicle that induced such visions and alcohol was the great agent that stopped it all. He doesn’t know it yet but his rock bottom is coming, and his rock bottom will haunt him more than any other vision. In order to save himself and garner employment, Dan joins Alcoholics Anonymous at the behest of his hopeful employer to prove that his word and worth in fact means something. He goes everyday for ninety days and while he succeeds in kicking the bottle, the shining continues to make it harder and harder to go on. He has taken a job as an orderly at a hospice called the Rivengton House where he can use his powers for good and send the sick and the dead to their afterlife in peace. Dan’s past is constantly rearing its ugly head until he realizes after meeting a young girl in trouble that in order to help himself he must help her in the process.
Abra Stone has been different from childhood. From her toddler years as a piano savant to her birthday where she was her own entertainment and inadvertently performed her own magic show for the guests. As she enters the dreaded teenage years her vocal outbursts have a Carrie-like effect, and at one point takes it to a level Carrie could never imagine. In her core Abra is a good natured young child with a heart of gold, but deep down tucked away in a corner, Abra has a fierce temper, a bloodthirsty soul and many questions that demand to be answered.While Dan refers to his shining as an imperceptible disfiguring birthmark, Abra sees it as a tool with great potential. When Dan finally meets Abra he quickly realizes that her shining is far more brighter than his.
Like he did in The Stand, Mr. King has two factions at play (representing good vs evil) traveling cross country as they set out on a collision course that will see one of them succumb to the others will. True Knot are a group of vagrant-looking, recreational vehicle driving, spirit-sucking vampires who prey on children that have nurtured their psychic abilities. What does it say about America when these monsters dress hideously the way they do in order to fit in with the rest of the population? I have my ideas but where was this research conducted? Anyway, they relish in killing these children slowly and painfully to help in prolonging their own lives and enabling them to have greater abilities. The leader of the cult is an Irish woman named Rose the Hat O’Hara who, unlike her cohorts is a beautiful seductress that sits on her thrown throwing her weight around when the situation demands it.
“He saw a Farmall tractor with a striped umbrella raised over the seat. He smelled bacon and heard Frank Sinatra singing ‘Come Fly with Me’ from a cracked Motorola radio sitting on a worktable littered with tools. He saw a hubcap full of rain reflecting a red barn. He tasted blueberries and gutted a deer and fished in some distant lake whose surface was dappled by steady autumn rain. He was sixty, dancing with his wife in the American Legion hall. He was thirty, splitting wood. He was five, wearing shorts and pulling a red wagon. Then the pictures blurred together, the way cards do when they’re shuffled in the hands of an expert, and the wind was blowing big snow down from the mountains, and in here was the silence and Azzie’s solemn watching eyes.”
I enjoyed the way the author handled the whole differences in which death can be realized by the enveloped onlooker. On one hand he was able to highlight the beauty and amazement that death can bring through the feeling of a life made complete with a deep sleep. On the other hand he showcased the ugliness and selfishness that death can bring through the note taking of ones ‘cycling’ and the looking at ones own mortality. Sure some of that is sensible, but I felt that there was a great procedural effect that showcased more concern for themselves than the perishers.
“They’re no more remarkable than a flock of birds on a telephone wire or a herd of cows grazing beside the road. Oh, you might wonder how they can afford to fill those fuel guzzling monstrosities, because they must be on comfy fixed incomes how else could they spend all their time driving around like they do? And you might puzzle over why anyone would want to spend their golden cruising all those endless American miles between hoot and holler, but beyond that you probably never spared them a thought.”
To tell you all the truth, I can’t really get behind Stephen King as a horror writer but I loved his book about writing “On Writing”. I was more accepting of his work as a teenager, but as I get older I have found his stuff to be more cartoony, soft and comical and more importantly, less impactful from an emotional standpoint. I won’t give up, but anticipation is non-existent. I think I need to read The Shining.