Paul Sheldon is a serious novel more famous for his unserious romance novels that he hates writing. He wakes up from a carwreck to someone giving him mouth to mouth, fades out, wakes up again in a bed, and is met by his self-proclaimed number one fan. He becomes quickly aware that the situation is not normal — not in a hospital room, in pain and being witheld pain medication, and things begin to get worse as he realizes that Annie’s fanaticism is fueled by a crazed, murderous rage and she’s only keeping him alive only so he can resurrect her favorite, beloved character. He begins looking for a way to escape only finding the darkness he’s been thrown into is even darker than he imagined.
This one is rough. I remember thinking I had read the whole thing as a kid, and I definitely read half or more of it because I distinctly remember the Misery Returns parts of the book, but clearly superimposed my experience with the movie on top of this one when it comes down to it. At some point in the novel both Annie and Paul acknowledge that his newest Misery novel is more gruesome than others. I always find that to be true about the Stephen King novels where there’s no real supernatural element creating the violence. It’s weird because I read a lot of crime and murder novels, but this novel’s depiction of a serial killer, combined with the ways in which this relationship is constructed on the logic of emotional and physical abuse, makes this one more alarming in a lot of ways. It’s still good, and there’s an added moment in which Paul Sheldon admits to writing satirical versions of his character to give to friends as proof that he hates her so much, and this book, much like the soon to come The Dark Half, in which Stephen King grapples with what kinds of novels he is and wants to write. In that moment, Paul and King have to admit that maybe this is their milieu, and they’re pretty good at it.