Misery by Stephen King

Paul Sheldon is an author, most famous for his collection of stories about Misery Chastain, a heroine loved and adored by many.  But Paul is sick of Misery and wants to concentrate on other novels, so he has killed off the character.  But then he crashes his car in a snowstorm in a part of the USA that he is not familiar with.  He would have died had he not been ‘rescued’ by Annie Wilkes, who describes herself as his (and Misery’s) biggest fan.  Annie is furious that he has killed off her favourite character and demands that he write another novel, where the heroine is brought back to life.  And what Annie wants, Annie gets…It doesn’t take long before Paul realises that Annie is dangerously unstable, and now, instead of writing for a living, he is writing for his life.

I really enjoyed this book.  For most of the book there are only two characters – Paul and Annie – which gives it a claustrophobic atmosphere.  There is also real tension within the pages – I found myself holding my breath while reading on as quickly as possible in order to see what happened next.  Annie is a terrifying character, and also a rather pathetic man.  Paul is our hero of sorts – although he is clearly portrayed as a somewhat selfish man, who is forced to draw on reserves of strength he didn’t know he possessed.

Although there are just two main characters, it was plot that really kept the book rolling along at such a quick pace.  It was established very early on that Annie was deranged (although the extent of her madness does not become clear until later).  It was also clear that she was able to out-manoeuvre Paul in all imaginable situations.  The reason that this book was so hard to put down was to see just how (if at all) Paul would escape this woman.

There are excerpts of ‘Misery’s Return’ – the book which Annie forces Paul to write – included in the book.  This was perhaps un-necessary (I only wanted to know what happened to Paul, not to his most popular character), but it did not detract from the main story at all.  I always think the scariest stories are ones which you actually believe could happen – as is the case with this one.  Very highly recommended to fans of the genre.  However, due to some of the graphic violent scenes, it may not be suitable for some younger readers.

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