Review: Misery by Stephen King
Published June 3rd 1988 by Signet
What I love about Stephen King is that although all of his books are written in his voice, you never truly know what you’re going to get. Some of his books are epic (It, The Stand), some are extremely personal (Lisey’s Story) and some are nostalgic and subtle (Joyland). He is a very versatile writer, and Misery is yet another proof of that.
Paul Sheldon has written a series of bestselling novels, that he thinks of as his non serious novels. After finishing one of his serious novels, he gets in a car crash that shatters his legs. He wakes up in the house of Annie Wilkes, his number one fan. But Annie is not satisfied with the ending of his bestselling Misery series, and she demands a new one.
The premise is very simple. There are only two characters, Paul and Annie. From the first page Paul is in Annie’s house. I was a bit hesitant about this situation – although the book isn’t very long, I was afraid this setting wouldn’t hold my attention for long. I shouldn’t have worried at all. After a page or thirty I couldn’t tear my eyes from the page, and I read all of it in about a day and a half.
Like all of his books, Misery builds to a huge crescendo where you’ll be reading as fast as possible, trying to find out who will die and who will survive (since that’s what it usually boils down to). Misery starts at creepy, then descends to downright gruesome and disturbing. Where some of King’s books use a supernatural evil (It, The Shining), Misery builds upon what would happen if a truly crazy woman would find her favourite author in a stroke of coincidence. It’s this realism what makes the book so scary. Where supernatural forces are something of a nightmare, something that belongs in stories, we all know crazy people. We see their pictures in the newspapers, or sometimes, even worse, we don’t.
Annie could have just been a caricature, an evil piece of cardboard that tortures Paul because she’s evil. Instead, she also has her moments where she is sweet, where she sits with Paul and watches some TV with him. She sings while she cleans. It’s these things that makes her human, and which makes her “bad moods” even scarier.
Although it’s an uncomfortable read (some scenes were so graphic that they’re burned into my brain), Misery joins the ranks of my favourite King books. Maybe it’s exactly this discomfort that makes his books so amazing.
Paul Sheldon. He’s a bestselling novelist who has finally met his biggest fan. Her name is Annie Wilkes and she is more than a rabid reader—she is Paul’s nurse, tending his shattered body after an automobile accident. But she is also his captor, keeping him prisoner in her isolated house. Now Annie wants Paul to write his greatest work—just for her. She has a lot of ways to spur him on. One is a needle. Another is an ax. And if they don’t work, she can get really nasty…