Misery by Stephen King

Misery by Stephen King

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The 52 Book Club 2022 Challenge Prompt: 34. An author’s photo on the back cover

Other Possible Prompts: 8. Involving the art world (literature), 37. Set in a rural area, 43. Author who’s published in more than one genre, 49. Book title starts with the same letter as your first name

I feel like I’ve been contemplating reading Misery for a very long time, but I’ve only just now gotten around to it. I wasn’t missing much. I know this is considered one of his scariest works, but I just didn’t love it like I thought I would.

Bestselling author Paul Sheldon is celebrating the completed manuscript of his latest book with a trip to Colorado when he crashes in a snowstorm, left to die, if not for Annie Wilkes – his number one fan who happened to be driving by at the time of the crash. Unfortunately for Paul, he’s just killed off Annie’s most favorite character, Misery, in his novels. Now, she “nurses” him back to health following several broken bones in the accident, while he whittles away at a new novel that brings Misery back to life, just for her.

I don’t think much explanation is required on this front, as I think most people know enough about the Misery story to infer what I mean by “nursing”. While Annie Wilkes has medical training, it is never her intention that Paul be healthy enough to leave the room and home she keeps him captive in. This novel, naturally, is an extremely gory one for that reason.

So gory, in fact, that I was physically sick reading some of it. Some of it is just so horrifying. And while super gross, that’s kind of what keeps my rating from being much lower. At least these parts venture into horror; I know a lot of people are absolutely terrified of Annie Wilkes, but her manic moods just weren’t as alarming to me. She’s definitely scary. Uncontrollable. But she wasn’t the villain of my nightmares.

I think part of the problem there might be that I think of the Annie Wilkes from Castle Rock, too. I love Castle Rock, the Hulu show. The Annie Wilkes of that show (season two) is definitely unstable, but the actress plays her well, as mentally ill but not unfeeling. She experiences blackouts. She has manic moods. But she still appears somewhat well-meaning or her intentions clear. I think the Annie of Misery is supposed to appear more malevolent and truly evil at her core, but I could only see a mentally ill woman that people would rather shut out than help. And yes, (*spoiler alert*) I know she killed a crap ton of people…but my point still stands. She got no help, and no justice for her crimes, either.

So, this book kind of drags, waiting for the next horror to be inflicted or escape attempted. I also don’t really care for the interspersed pieces of Sheldon’s novel that he’s writing in captivity. It eventually comes full circle to be relevant to the current reality, but I don’t think it’s necessary and I don’t think it added much to my reading experience. Another case of “King could use a better editor”. Like me. Hire me Stephen.

I have to say that the ending actually made me gasp out loud. I will not spoil the ending…but if you’ve read it, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Audible gasps as I read Annie’s fate. That gave it like, at least one more star in my book. It was a good ending and not at all like the King endings I’m used to that often feel real but unsatisfying.

I think that will about do it for me. I’m dying to hear other opinions on this one! I think for most people it’s like a formative horror story, and it can do no wrong, but having read quite a bit of King I just don’t think this is his best.

Have a great week!

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