‘Misery’ Stephen King

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Misery Chastain was dead. Paul Sheldon had just killed her – with relief, with joy. Misery had made him rich; she was the heroine of a string of bestsellers. And now he wanted to get on to some real writing.

That’s when the car accident happened, and he woke up in pain in a strange bed. But it wasn’t the hospital. Annie Wilkes had pulled him from the wreck, brought him to her remote mountain home, splinted and set his mangled legs.

The good news was that Annie was a nurse and has pain-killing drugs. The bad news was that she was Paul’s Number One Fan. And when she found out what Paul had done to Misery, she didn’t like it. She didn’t like it at all. And now he had to bring Misery back to life. Or else . . .

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Have I ever described a book as ‘brutal’ in any of my reviews? Nope, didn’t think I had. Well, there’s a first time for everything…

Misery is brutal.

But I mean that as a compliment. It’s been so long time since a book has had me recoiling back in my chair, my mouth hanging agape as I frantically re-read a sentence just to be 100% certain I’ve read what I think I’ve just read.

Misery is something of a slow burner. The real action – the shit hitting the fan, so to speak – doesn’t begin until about three quarters of the way through the novel when Annie gets impossibly more sadistic in her actions. However, the slowness of the plot until that point really builds the anticipation. Annie’s past is fed to us in dribs and drabs, allowing us to piece together who she is and what she’s done…or, at least, who we think she is and what she’s done. The truth behind Annie is far more horrifying, horrifying in only a way Stephen King – the true master of horror – can conceive of.

I sometimes feel like I’m too innocent for Stephen King’s books. For example, there’s a scene where (teeny tiny spoiler alert) Annie forces Paul to drink dirty water from a mop bucket (a scene throughout which I kept picturing the mop bucket in the kitchen at work and, consequently, kept retching a bit more than ever so slightly) and thought to my naive self, Oh dear, it can’t get much worse than this can it?

Oh yes it can. Dear god and sweet mother o’ Jesus, yes it can. I can just picture Stephen King laughing at my earlier thoughts, patting me on the head and saying “Oh Jazz, you really are funny!

There are certain books you read and you find yourself chuckling at the absurdity of the situation the characters find themselves in, but this is far from the case with Misery. Misery is graphic to the point where you can almost feel the pain, fear and helplessness that Paul experiences. They say reading makes us better people because it teaches us empathy and all I can say is this; if you need lessons in empathy, this is the book for you. Everything Paul sees, hears, smells and feels, you as a reader will see, hear, smell and feel too. There were certain points during Misery where I actually had to close the book for a few moments and just breathe, just remind myself that I wasn’t locked in Annie’s spare room.

I like Paul as a protagonist for two main reasons. One, his dry sense of humour is hilarious. Two, he’s believable. So often in novels, protagonists develop this hero complex and feel the need to put themselves in dangerous situations when they’re already in a bloody dangerous situation to begin with (danger within danger…dangception?). Paul doesn’t, though. He’s intelligent enough to understand that any plan he attempts to see through will have potentially dire consequences and, as a result, he often backs out of a plan if he deems it too risky. He’s not a hero. He’s just a man fighting to stay alive. As much as we like to pretend we’d drop kick Annie (well, maybe not with mangled legs) at the first chance we got, we have to be honest and say we’d probably be Paul-like in our actions. It’s a very human desire, the need to survive, and Paul demonstrates that there’s no shame in this.

Misery is a gripping, harrowing story of a man’s fight for survival. I wouldn’t recommend it for the fainthearted, but it’s a fantastic read if you enjoy horror of the human kind. So often we think horror lies in ghosts, vampires or werewolves, when in actuality, it’s a by-product of the more negative side of humanity.

Rating: 5 out of 5 (I sometimes worry I’m too liberal with my 5s, but I think I just have a fantastic taste in books)

Song: Paramore’s Misery Business

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This book is available on Amazon in both e-reader and paperback format.

 

36 comments

  1. I preferred the book to the movie – not entirely sure why, perhaps because I immersed myself more with the former – and it certainly was a great read. Encourages me to read more of his books. My top priorities are Salem’s Lot and IT, though they will take quite a while to read, I imagine.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I watched the movie today and I, like you, preferred the book. I liked being able to get inside Paul Sheldon’s mind, whereas I couldn’t do that with the movie!
      I read Salem’s Lot years ago and while I can’t remember much, I remember really enjoying it!

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  2. I really want to read this! I have seen the movie and quite enjoyed it and one thing that appeals to me about this book is it’s a horror scenario that could happen (super crazy fangirl) also out of King’s works it’s one of the shorter ones (and I don’t always have time to devote to his behemouths) so someday, hopefully soon, I’ll read this!

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  3. Great review, I’ve not seen the movie or read the book but I do enjoy King’s work on the whole.

    Always nice to see ‘the sh#t hitting the fan’ in a review, I do like that phrase!😂

    “I sometimes feel like I’m too innocent for Stephen King’s books. For example, there’s a scene where (teeny tiny spoiler alert) Annie forces Paul to drink dirty water from a mop bucket (a scene throughout which I kept picturing the mop bucket in the kitchen at work and, consequently, kept retching a bit more than ever so slightly) and thought to my naive self, Oh dear, it can’t get much worse than this can it?” – sniggers at too innocent!😂 And if it was the mop bucket where I work then it wouldn’t be retching it’d be barfing!😂🤢🤢

    Liked by 1 person

    • I recommend both, although the book is way better! Do you have any specific King book you’d recommend? 🙂 I was looking at a list of his books the other day and it seems I haven’t read as much as I thought I had. I’ve read a lot of his reeeeeally old stuff, like Carrie, Cujo, Pet Semetary and The Shining etc, but not later stuff (except Doctor Sleep)
      “Shit hitting the fan” is applicable to so many things as of late…politics, the state of the world in general!
      Oh god, if your mop bucket is worse than ours than that literally doesn’t even bear thinking about. People just leave the water standing in it for hours and when you find it’s just cold, dirt-filled water with random bits of half-rotten food floating in it. I can’t imagine a mop bucket worse than that…scrap that, I don’t want to!

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      • I’ve not read that much King really, The Shining is awesome, didn’t enjoy Dr Sleep, it was OK but that was all. I’d definitely recommend The Stand (it’s epic regardless of the length) and The Green Mile though, both are quality and The Green Mile is really emotional, King makes you care about a mouse! Salem’s Lot is also supposed to be great but I’ve not read it.
        I’d probably suggest staying away from Under the Dome, it’s 1,000 pages and awesome, quality book until the last 50 pages and the ending absolutely blows, spoils the book.
        Sounds like the mop bucket at work, I work at Tesco, enough said.😂

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      • I liked Doctor Sleep purely for the fact that it was somewhat comforting to see that Danny turned out okay, despite everything he’d been through.
        I’ve actually read The Green Mile come to think of it, but it was many years ago. I think I was about 16, so can’t remember too much.
        Under the Dome is one of his new ones, right? Not a massive fan of his new works (except Doctor Sleep). I tried to read Cell and just could not get on with it at all. I hear if you persevere it gets better, but I’m not always too patient with books haha

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      • Under the Dome is newish, I’d say 2009 but I’ve been known to be wrong.😂 It is a great book but the ending is terrible which King does seem to have some issues with, a few of his books seem to suffer from bad endings but the Under the Dome ending transcends bad and is godawful.

        I’ve not read Cell, there’s a film based on it, I gave up on that after about 30 minutes. No need to be patient with books, there is too many books and never enough time as it is without bothering with those you can’t get on with.

        How could you not remember much about The Green Mile, awesome book and film, sigh, some people!😂

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      • I heard he doesn’t actually plan his books, he just writes and sees where they go. Maybe that’s some of his problem with endings. He thinks “Shit, gotta wrap this up now” and ends it any way he can think how haha

        Of course I wouldn’t remember. You’re talking to a person who has to leave notes for herself around the house reminding her to do things! I’m something of a scatterbrain unfortunately haha

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      • I didn’t know that about King, it would explain a lot though, especially as a few of his books seem to have dodgy endings but……even if he hadn’t planned it I’m sure he could have come up with a better ending for Under the Dome, I mean it’s that bad, I bet he sat their smiling when he wrote it!😂

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  4. Absolutely awesome review Jazz! I’m a Stephen King FANATIC and I consider Misery to be one of his best books. It’s been years since I read it, but I remember being so stressed out while doing so! I kept wanting to put it down during the more squeamish scenes, but found myself unable to tear myself away. I also think the movie adaptation was excellent, although you know the book is almost always going to be better!😏

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you! ❤ It really is a fantastic book, isn't it? I heard that it's King's favorite book of his and because of that, he wouldn't sell the rights to a movie director until the right one came along! I watched the movie today actually and while it was excellent, I thought the book was better. One of the final scenes in the book – where Paul locks Annie in the bedroom and then the two police officers arrive and find her in the barn – was chilling simply because it showed how indestructible Annie was, but they completely missed it out in the movie! They just skipped to '18 months later' 😛

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  5. What a fantastic review.. I’m totally sold.. I want to try this King book.. before I commit to The Stand.. It’s kind of odd, because the book sounds pretty ‘yuk’ but your review made me laugh so hard I am actually excited about the book 😀 odd, much?! And the mop bucket… gosh, don’t even!

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    • Aww I’m glad my review made you laugh 😀 It’s always a bonus when my reviews can be both informative and entertaining 😀 When you do try it, I’ll be interested in hearing your thoughts on it! I’ll have to read ‘The Stand’ at some point. There’s so many of King’s books I haven’t actually read!

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    • Thank you ❤ I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. I can see why it's one of King's personal favorites! It's something of a masterpiece. Be sure to read the book before you watch the movie, though. I watched the movie today and while it's good, it's nowhere near the level of brilliance that the book is ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Loved the review. King’s my favorite author.
    I really felt it when he said in a Rolling Stone interview that he was struggling with his cocaine addiction while (or after or before I forgot) writing the book. He said something like, Annie Wilkies is cocaine. And she’s my number one fan.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for dropping by my blog! I’m pleased that you enjoyed the review 🙂 I’ll have to see if I can find that interview somewhere. I find the backstory behind the novel absolutely fascinating. When you hear ‘Misery’ is based on King’s life, you immediately think “Wait a minute…” but when you actually delve a little deeper, it becomes a lot clearer. Absolutely fascinating writer!

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      • You’re welcome 🙂 I was searching King on the WordPress reader and came across your blog. Hehe. My obsession with him is rivaled only by Annie Wilkies. Lol. Jk.
        I’ll drop by more often. You’re a good reviewer.

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