Misery by Stephen King


Misery, Stephen King, 1987

My favorite quote: “That was it. In Annie’s view all the people in the world were divided into three groups: brats, poor poor things… and Annie.” (I think I’ve met more than a couple of Annies in my life, but that’s another story for another book review …)

Most interesting characters: Paul Sheldon, famous author of the Misery Chastain novels, Annie Wilkes, his number one fan

Opening scene: Misery begins with Paul Sheldon coming to after a car accident in the snowy mountains, as a woman — Annie Wilkes — breathes life back into him with a stomach-churning effort at mouth-to-mouth resuscitation 

The gist: Paul Sheldon’s most famous character, Misery Chastain, is dead, and to that, Paul says, ‘good riddance, you naggy little wench!’ Former nurse Annie Wilkes, on the other hand, isn’t so happy about it. In fact, she’s furious. That would be fine with Paul (no author REALLY cares if readers are upset when their characters die — they like that!) except for the fact that he’s under Annie’s constant watch now. She rescued him from a near-fatal accident and nursed him back to some degree of health … but Paul soon realizes he’s a prisoner in Annie’s isolated mountain home — a prisoner who will, by God, write the book that Annie wants 

Greatest strengths: I think we can probably all agree that the strongest element of Misery is Stephen King’s character, Annie Wilkes. Annie Wilkes is a fully-rounded, emotionally unstable psychopath who knows very well what her favorite author OUGHT to be writing. And if she has to show him the way with an ax and a blow torch, well — so be it. It’s for the greater good. And she wasn’t wrong. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, “Use an ax and a blow torch,” when someone asks for my guidance on one thing or another. Everything from stocking up on firewood for cold winters to relationship advice to getting a waiter’s attention during the lunch rush — nine times out of ten, an ax and a blow torch is the answer     

Standout achievements: In Misery, Stephen King takes stalking to a new level. I mean, it’s one thing to scream your uninvited opinions at your favorite author on social media — we ALL do that — but to save them from a car accident and drag them home with you? In my opinion, Annie Wilkes could have handled things differently. She should have showed up at the scene of the accident and made Paul Sheldon promise right then and there that he’d write the book she wanted. After he promised, she could have commenced saving his life then sent him on his way. It certainly would have spared everyone a lot of trouble  

Fun Facts: Because the scene involving the ax and the blow torch was so gruesome in the book, they decided to take a gentler tack for the movie. And by gentler, I mean that Annie Wilkes places a board between Paul Sheldon’s ankles and bashes him at the joints with a sledgehammer so he can’t get away from her. That’s love, right there. I mean, to be so enamored of someone that you’d go to those lengths to keep them with you … it’s just beautiful. You’ll want to keep the Kleenex handy for that one — I wept like a baby. I’ve always said that Stephen King is the best romance writer of our time and that’s why — because when it comes to true love, he gets it

Other media: In 1990, they made Stephen King’s Misery into a movie (also called Misery) which stars the perfectly-cast Kathy Bates as Annie Wilkes and the almost-as-perfectly-cast James Caan as Paul Sheldon

Additional thoughts: The scenario that Stephen King sets up in Misery isn’t as uncommon as one might think. There are a lot of Paul Sheldons and Annie Wilkes out there and as a writer myself, I have to constantly be on the lookout. You never know when you might catch the wrong eye, you know? Indeed, even as I write this review, my own pet author, international bestseller, Tamara Thorne, is weepily penning the tale of a torrid love-triangle between an emotionally scarred investment accountant, a shape-shifting ladybug, and the Lucky Charms leprechaun. I’ve always wanted to read a book about that. Ms. Thorne has been struggling with this one, but I cheer her on by pointedly eyeing the ax and blow torch I keep next to the desk. Again — and I can’t stress this enough — the answer is always an ax and a blow torch  

Hit or Miss: Hit. Stephen King, for all his brilliance, seriously outdid himself with Misery. I’ve read it half a dozen times and will easily read it half a dozen more. I only wish he’d write a sequel. *eyes the ax and blow torch as an idea begins to form …* 

Haunt me: alistaircross.com

Read Stephen King’s Misery

Published by Alistair Cross

Alistair Cross grew up on horror novels and scary movies, and by the age of eight, began writing his own stories. First published in 2012, he has since co-authored The Cliffhouse Haunting and Mother with Tamara Thorne and is working on several other projects. His debut solo novel, The Crimson Corset, was an Amazon bestseller. The Black Wasp, book 3 in The Vampires of Crimson Cove series is on its way. Find out more about him at: http://alistaircross.com ********************************************************************************************* In collaboration, Thorne and Cross are currently writing several novels, including the next volume in the continuing gothic series, The Ravencrest Saga. Their first novel, The Cliffhouse Haunting, was an immediate bestseller. Together, they hosted the horror-themed radio show Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE! which featured such guests as Anne Rice of The Vampire Chronicles, Charlaine Harris of the Southern Vampire Mysteries and basis of the HBO series True Blood, Jeff Lindsay, author of the Dexter novels, Jay Bonansinga of The Walking Dead series, Laurell K. Hamilton of the Anita Blake novels, Peter Atkins, screenwriter of Hellraiser 2, 3, and 4, worldwide bestseller V.C. Andrews, Kim Harrison of the Hollows series, and New York Times best sellers Preston & Child, Christopher Rice, and Christopher Moore. ********************************************************************************************** Currently, Thorne & Cross are hosts of Thorne & Cross: Carnival Macabre, where listeners can discover all manner of demented delights, unearth terrifying treasures, and explore the dark side of the arts.

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