MISERY by Stephen King


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Fans weary of King's recent unwieldy tomes can rest easy: his newest is slim, slick, and razor-keen. His first novel without supernatural elements outside of the Richard Bachman series, this psychological terror tale laced with pitch-black humor tells the nerve-jangling story of a best-selling author kidnapped and tortured by his "number one fan." King opens on a disorienting note as writer Paul Sheldon drifts awake to find himself in bed, his legs shattered. A beefy woman, 40-ish Annie Wilkes, appears and feeds him barbiturates. During the hazy next week, Paul learns that Annie, an ex-nurse, carried him from a car wreck to her isolated house, where she plans to keep him indefinitely. She's a spiteful misanthrope subject to catatonic fits, but worships Paul because he writes her favorite books, historical novels featuring the heroine "Misery." As Annie pumps him with drugs and reads the script of his latest novel, also saved from the wreck, Paul waits with growing apprehension--he killed off Misery in this new one. tn time, Annie rushes into the room, howling: she demands that Paul write a new novel resurrecting Misery just for her. He refuses until she threatens to withhold his drugs; so he begins the book (tantalizing chunks of which King seeds throughout this novel). Days later, when Annie goes to town, Paul, who's now in a wheelchair, escapes his locked room and finds a scrapbook with clippings of Annie's hobby: she's a mass-murderer. Up to here, King has gleefully slathered on the tension: now he slams on the shocks as Annie returns swinging an axe and chops off Paul's foot. Soon after, off comes his thumb; when a cop looking for Paul shows up, Annie lawnmowers his head. Burning for revenge, Paul finishes his novel, only to use the manuscript as a weapon against his captor in the ironic, ferocious climax. Although lacking the psychological richness of his best work, this nasty shard of a novel with its weird autobiographical implications probably will thrill and chill King's legion of fans. Note: the publisher plans an unprecedented first printing of one-million copies.
Pub Date: June 8th, 1987
ISBN: 0451169522
Page count: 356pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1987


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