Stephen King, best known for his horror books decided to mix it up with his 1987 novel, Misery. Moving away from traditional supernatural horror that rose him to fame amongst the book world, he dove into the psychological horror thriller genre.
The novel follows Paul Sheldon, a famous novelist best known for the romantic ‘Misery’ series starring his main character Misery Chastain. We meet him where he is concluding his new novel, a stand alone outside of the books that made him world renown as he’d grown tired of Misery. However when he is caught in a snowstorm that sees he and his car buried in the middle of the road he is left for dead. Until he is rescued by the seemingly good Samaritan, Annie Wilkes. She nurses him back to health, telling him she is his ‘number one fan.’ However upon learning that Paul wishes to be finished with Misery and move on to other stories the relationship between the two characters take a drastic turn.
This is where King does what he does best and sends the novel down a dark rabbit hole. Annie becomes aggressive, using drugs and other methods to keep Paul bed bound while forcing him to continue the Misery series on her own typewriter.
King brilliantly showcases the psychological trauma the protagonist experiences as he attempts to escape, with the author blurring the line between the bittersweet nature of hope, showing how it can be both our greatest saviour and cruelest tormentor. He brilliantly delves into the backstories of both characters, tapping into the emotional state of Paul not only from his situation but showing how his past experiences has impacted him in the present. We also get to learn the gruesome yet page turning history of Annie and her mentally unstable state.
He keeps the readers engage right down to the logical conclusion, that despite becoming semi-obvious in the latter end of the novel, is still as exciting and thrilling as the chapters preceding it.
Furthermore he includes Paul’s novel within his own, creating a world within a world. It showcases how amazing his writing ability is, in that he is able to engage us in the excerpts of Paul’s writing within the novel.
The only criticism I found with this book was it’s slow, but what I would later understand, necessary start. There was a lot of character building in this novel leading to its low paced beginning however that’s what makes the crux of the book so good. Despite this the book receives an 8.5/10 rating. The story and characters are brilliantly thrilling and it ended gruesomely satisfyingly.
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