You would think there are only so many ways you can appreciate a master-piece. Even the most beloved of books can lose some of their lustre when they're well-thumbed and loved to a point of disrepair; even the brilliant film adaptations can become tiresome if watched endlessly.
But that never quite seems to happen with The Shining. Generally regarded as Stephen King's masterpiece, layered with Freudian and post-modern masculine and familial anxiety, it's a torturous, spell-binding spiral into the warped psyche of one of King's greatest character creations. It's a horror rooted in sympathy and reality, pricked with emotion and devastating at the end.
And thanks to this wonderful new illustrated edition from The Folio Society, illustrated by Edward Kinsella, it's a masterpiece that can be experienced once more in an entirely new way.
Obviously little needs to be said about the story itself - that is already known to be stunning and essential - but the new presentation helps it sing afresh. Bound in cloth and with an inner cover that is essentially an Easter Egg in itself, the almost £50 book is well worth the price. It's an absolute work of art, and it's not just rightly build as a collector's edition, it's a definitive fan's edition.
The award-winning artist's illustrations match the uneasy disquiet of the text and the generally creepy mood, using photorealistic elements married to more poppy ones and creating a tangibly otherworldly feel that drips from the pages. He clearly knows the text, translating iconic scenes - like the shocking image of the woman in the bath - into gut-punching horrors. His style is brilliantly atmospheric and captures the humanity of the subjects perfectly too. It's rare to be able to talk of such quality in an illustrated edition of a book and not on a gallery wall.
The pleasure in re-reading The Shining is of course rediscovering elements that we didn't find first time(s) out, and there's definitely the sense here that the illustrations aid those new interpretations. Mostly because Kinsella's own interpretations have so clearly been wrung from the text. So his Jack Torrance is less two-dimensional pantomime villain and more normal and hauntingly sympathetic: it's almost as if he's been consciously drawn more "normal" so that the subversion is doubly affecting.
Kinsella's 11 disturbing colour illustrations capture the book’s vision of a particular type of hell, and you will find yourself wishing there was more of his work in there.
The Folio Society's illustrated edition of The Shining is available to buy now from The Folio Society. If you're a Stephen King fan, this is truly the definitive way to experience the text. It's a must buy.