Stephen King’s “Misery,” a Book Review

Fret not: No spoilers ahead.


Stephen King produced this 1987 book, one of his shortest ones at only 310 pages (hardcover), as something of a “love letter” to his fans. Whelp, it’s the kind of love letter you’d expect of King: love hurts. The gist of the novel is that Paul Sheldon, a famed novelist of Victorian romance novels, crashes his car in Colorado during a snow storm and then Annie Wilkes, his #1 fan~!, finds him. She nurses him back to health.

Then she releases him and the books ends.

Haha, just kidding. Misery ensues. Lots of it. Excruciating misery. She’s twisted and fucked up and such a great villain because she’s like the killer that does it with a smile, a gentle voice and asking you if you want a hot cup of tea with your misery. Then she’ll turn on a dime and get batshit crazy. It’s great.

Plus, intermixed throughout is the novel inside a novel as Sheldon is tasked with writing a new Misery book, so we get Stephen King’s take on the writing process. It really feels like an authentic love letter to his fans.

Reportedly, King has said that Annie was the embodiment of his drug addiction. Always there; his #1 fan, that kinda thing. Reading the novel through, there are many obvious signs of this metaphor that I was giddy to lap up.

It’s interesting to read a King book this tight in scope, but I liked it. The book moves at a nice brisk pace, but pauses long enough so that the reader feels the misery that Sheldon feels. There was definitely parts where I cringed and had to back away from the book, as if it was scolding hot.

Satisfying conclusion, too. It’s hard to get a satisfying conclusion with a book that builds up to a climax such as this one, but it was perfectly done. Now time to revisit the highly acclaimed adaptation.

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