Misery by Stephen King (1987)

Posted: December 5, 2013 in Horror, Thriller

“I am in trouble here. This woman is not right”


Misery is the story of novelist Paul Sheldon, who nearly dies in a car crash and Annie Wilkes, the woman who saves his life.  Misery is also the name of a popular heroine in Sheldon’s Victorian romance novels.  Paul awakens from his coma to find himself crippled and under the care of Annie, a former nurse who has read all of his Misery novels and professes to be his number one fan.  As time passes by under Annie’s care, Paul begins to realise to his horror that his carer is in fact his captor and she is severely unstable.  Annie loses her temper when she reads Sheldon’s belligerent new novel about car theft.  She flies into a morbid rage when she finds that he has decided to kill off Misery, ending her romantic saga.  Eventually she forces him into writing a new novel to bring back her beloved Misery from the dead.  Paul co-operates with her, hoping that when he is recuperated enough he can formulate an escape plan.  But he soon learns the consequences of betraying his number one fan.

Although I have seen most of the Stephen King movie adaptations I must confess that Misery was the first of his novels I have actually read.  I’m glad I finally did because I have become an instant fan.  Don’t get me wrong, this book may require some work before you begin to enjoy it but the rewards come very quickly.  Paul’s fevered dreams of agony do not make for easy reading at the beginning of the book.  The chunks of Sheldon’s fictional manuscript for “Misery’s Return” were not exactly easy for me either but I’m glad King put them in there because it really helps with the realism of Paul’s plight.

Those of you who have watched the 1990 movie you will be familiar with the basic concept and the characters but I recommend you take the time to read this novel because it really takes you much deeper into the horror of this unnerving situation.  Sheldon’s abuse at the hands of Annie Wilkes takes on a much darker tone and I certainly found myself wondering if he was ever going to make it through to the end of the book!  Obviously a popular novelist like Stephen King requires no approval from me but if you have yet to read Misery it is worth picking up a copy either second hand or on Kindle.  After all, who knows?  You may even become his next number one fan…

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