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March 22, 2010

Misery

by Stephen King

This guy knows how to spin a yarn. Although this is the first book I’ve read by Stephen King, I have always loved those stories which have been turned into movies -Carrie,The Shining,Christine,Salem’s Lot -I was inspired to dip into Stephen King having read his bookOn Writing: A Memoir of the Craft(the only book on creative writing from which I have so far genuinely taken something away), intrigued to read for myself how he puts what he preaches into practice.

Miseryis the main character in a series of bestsellers penned by popular fiction writer Paul Sheldon, who having just finished what he predicts will be his biggest-selling book so far,Fast Cars, drinks himself into oblivion and drives himself into a ditch. He awakens to find himself at the mercy of his “number one fan”, Annie Wilkes, a former nurse who pulls Paul from his wreckage, brings him to her secluded home and splints his mangled legs.

In Paul’s lastMiserybook, he has killed off the main character, Misery Chastain. And Annie doesn’t like it one bit. Annie manages to get the crippled Paul so hooked on Novril for the pain that he has no choice but to give in to Annie and bring Misery back to life inMisery’s Return. Written just for Annie.

A gruesome, chilling and yet fascinating story of Paul Sheldon’s convalescence, if you can call it that. Forced to burn the only copy ofFast Carsin existence, Paul manages to fight through the haze of drugs and bring back Misery Chastain in what ironically will turn out to be his bestMiserynovel to date. But is it worth the price of a severed thumb or a foot cut off with an axe?

Reluctant as I am to use the expression, this is an absolute page-turner and the most enjoyable book I’ve read in a long time.

James’ out-of-five star rating: *****

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