Book Review by Lori Carol Maloy
Misery by Stephen King/ A Book Review
Published: June 8, 1987
Just after Paul Sheldon finishes the last page of his novel, he leaves his hotel with his only copy of his typed manuscript of Fast Cars and drives through a snowstorm. He loses control of the vehicle and flips his car, tumbling off the road and out of sight into a snow-covered and hidden ravine. He’s terribly injured and unconscious. Both his legs are broken, and he is close to death. Annie Wilkes notices the turned over vehicle and decides to trek through the driving snow. She grabs Sheldon, along with his briefcase, and drags him out of the wreckage and takes him to her isolated farmhouse to nurse him back to health.
He is unconscious for a time. When he wakes he has an IV tube in his arm and experiences unbearable pain. He fades in and out of consciousness, afraid to even look at his crooked and deformed legs.
As he interacts with Annie, he begins to feel frightened.
Why didn’t she take him to the hospital when the storm cleared? Why didn’t she call the authorities and tell them he was injured and in her home? What secrets is she hiding?
Paul realizes very quickly something is terribly wrong with Annie’s mental state. But his legs are broken and unusable. He is trapped inside her home, now forced to resurrect a character from his Misery novels that he has happily killed off. But Annie, his number one fan, adores Sheldon's protagonist, Misery Chastain, and becomes violent at finding out he killed her off in the last novel.
Now he must write for his life and hope his resurrection of Misery will be enough to save him.
Without giving any spoilers, I can tell you there are plenty of turns and twists and suspense in this gruesome kidnapping tale.
Kathy Bates plays Annie in the movie, and she does it masterfully. But the book is much more in-depth and provides details and intriguing scenes that aren’t in the movie.
Isn’t that how it always is when a novel is made into a movie. Two hours isn’t enough time to thoroughly flesh out a novel or its characters.
And if you’ve only seen the movie, you are missing out on King’s brilliant writing style. His unique prose is captivating and poetic in this novel.
I have read Misery several times because the prose, suspense, psychological tension, and mystery are so well crafted. This novel is face paced and an edge of the seat ride.
If you like well-written and terribly suspenseful psychological thrillers you’ll love this read.
As you can tell, I enjoyed this novel but found myself wishing Paul would have been made a couple of different decisions than he did. But I also told myself, what could he really do? He had two broken legs and was being terrorized.
You be the judge.
Annie’s inner turmoil and her psychological brokenness was expertly written and shown. Sociopathy is scary but getting a close up look is even scarier. Examining the effect of finding myself in this kind of situation, I couldn't help think of my reactions and the absolute horror of being one of Annie's possessions. During the entire novel I felt like I was right beside Sheldon and it was riveting.
As her victim, you think you might make different decisions, but would you? How do you know?
King shows his writing mastery by keeping us enthralled with two characters and one setting throughout the novel.
Other than Paul Sheldon’s car accident there are no exciting high-speed car chases and very few other characters entering stage left, except what is in Paul Sheldon’s mind and his frightening interactions with Annie, but King pulls this story off like a master. I can't imagine the story unfolding in any other way.
Very little profanity. No nudity or sex. Simply perfect prose and a thrilling ride from page one until the end. So, lock your doors and hunker down.
This novel is a must read.