Thrown from the wreckage of his '74 Camaro, Paul Sheldon, author of a bestselling series of historical romances, wakes up one day in a secluded Colorado farmhouse owned by Annie Wilkes, a psychotic ex-nurse who claims she is his number one fan. Immobilized from the pain of two shattered legs and a crushed knee, Sheldon is at Annie's mercy.
Unfortunately for Sheldon, Annie is mad; mad that he killed off her favorite character, Misery Chastain, in his latest book; mad that he wants to escape; and of course, mad in the most extreme clinical sense of the word.
To set the world straight, Annie buys Sheldon a typewriter and some paper, drugs him, locks him in a room, and forces him to bring Misery back to life in a novel dedicated to her. Fear of physical torture is Sheldon's greatest motivation. One wrong sentence and she is likely to smash his legs with a sledgehammer, cut his thumbs off with a hacksaw, or much, much worse. But writers have weapons too. . . .
King's new novel, about a writer held hostage by his self-proclaimed "number-one fan," is unadulteratedly terrifying. Paul Sheldon, a writer of historical romances, is in a car accident; rescued by nurse Annie Wilkes, he slowly realizes that salvation can be worse than death. Sheldon has killed off Misery Chastain, the popular protagonist of his Misery series and Annie, who has a murderous past, wants her back. Keeping the paralyzed Sheldon prisoner, she forces him to revive the character in a continuation of the series, and she reads each page as it comes out of the typewriter; there is a joyously Dickensian novel within a novel here, and it appears in faded typescript. Studded among the frightening moments are sparkling reflections on the writer and his audience, on the difficulties, joys and responsibilities of being a storyteller, on the nature of the muse, on the differences between ``serious'' and ``popular'' writing. Sheldon is a revealingly autobiographical figure; Annie is not merely a monster but is subtly and often touchingly portrayed, allowing hostage and keeper a believable, if twisted, relationship. The best parts of this novel demand that we take King seriously as a writer with a deeply felt understanding of human psychology.