Stephen King: Misery

Misery is a gripping psychological horror novel by Stephen King that tells the story of a successful author, Paul Sheldon, who finds himself at the mercy of a dangerously obsessed fan, Annie Wilkes, after a car accident leaves him injured and stranded. Through its chilling narrative, vividly drawn characters, and exploration of themes such as obsession, isolation, and the power dynamics in relationships, Misery provides a captivating and suspenseful reading experience that showcases King’s mastery of the horror genre.


number of pages: 320
literary movement: CONTEMPORARY
literary genre: HORROR, THRILLER
1st edition: 1987
years of writing: mid 1980s


The novel begins with Paul Sheldon, the author of a popular series of historical romance novels featuring the character Misery Chastain, driving through a snowstorm in rural Colorado. Having just completed the manuscript for a new novel, Paul loses control of his car and crashes, leaving him severely injured and trapped. He is soon discovered by Annie Wilkes, a former nurse and self-proclaimed “number one fan” of the Misery series, who takes him to her isolated farmhouse to recuperate.

As Paul begins to recover from his injuries under Annie’s care, he soon discovers that she is not the kindly, if eccentric, savior she initially appears to be. Annie, who suffers from severe mental health issues, becomes increasingly obsessed with Paul and the Misery series, reacting violently when she discovers that he has killed off her beloved character in his latest manuscript. She forces Paul to write a new novel that brings Misery back to life, all the while subjecting him to physical and psychological torture to ensure his compliance and obedience.

Throughout the novel, King expertly builds tension and suspense as Paul struggles to survive his confinement and find a way to escape from Annie’s clutches. The story delves into the depths of human obsession and the lengths to which individuals will go to possess and control the objects of their desire. Additionally, the novel explores the complex power dynamics between captor and captive, as Paul’s efforts to manipulate and deceive Annie become a desperate game of cat and mouse.


Paul Sheldon

Paul is a successful writer known for his romance novels featuring the character Misery Chastain. He is the protagonist of the story and is held captive by his obsessive fan, Annie Wilkes. Throughout the novel, Paul endures physical and psychological torture while trying to find a way to escape his captor.

Annie Wilkes

Annie is a former nurse and the primary antagonist of the story. She is Paul Sheldon’s self-proclaimed number one fan and rescues him after his car accident. However, her obsession with Paul and his work takes a dark turn when she holds him captive in her remote cabin, forcing him to write a new novel to her liking. Annie is mentally unstable and has a violent temper, making her a dangerous and unpredictable captor.

Misery Chastain

Misery is a fictional character created by Paul Sheldon in his series of romance novels. She is a 19th-century woman who faces various challenges and hardships. Although not a real person, Misery plays a significant role in the novel as the center of Annie’s obsession and the reason for Paul’s captivity.

Sheriff Buster

Sheriff Buster is the local law enforcement officer who begins to investigate Paul Sheldon’s disappearance. He is determined and tenacious, following clues that eventually lead him to Annie’s cabin. Unfortunately, his pursuit of the truth leads to tragic consequences.

Virginia (Ginny) McCain

Ginny is the deputy sheriff and wife of Sheriff Buster. She assists her husband in the investigation and provides moral support during the search for Paul Sheldon. Her presence helps humanize the law enforcement side of the story.

These are the main characters in the novel Misery. The story primarily focuses on Paul Sheldon and Annie Wilkes, with the other characters playing smaller but significant roles in the plot.

I am your number one fan.



  • Author: Misery is a psychological horror novel written by Stephen King, an acclaimed American author known for his mastery of the horror and suspense genres.
  • Publication: The book was published in 1987 by Viking Press, further establishing King’s reputation as a prolific and skilled writer.
  • Plot: The story revolves around Paul Sheldon, a successful author who gets into a car accident during a snowstorm and is subsequently held captive by his self-proclaimed number one fan, Annie Wilkes.
  • Setting: The novel is set primarily in a remote cabin in the mountains of Colorado, contributing to the sense of isolation and tension that runs throughout the story.
  • Genre: Misery falls under the psychological horror genre, focusing on the twisted relationship between Paul and Annie and the intense mental and emotional torment he endures.
  • Themes: The novel explores themes such as obsession, captivity, mental illness, and the dark side of fandom.
  • Literary Devices: King employs various literary devices, including foreshadowing, symbolism, and vivid imagery, to build suspense and create a haunting atmosphere.
  • Popularity: Misery was well-received by both critics and readers, becoming a bestseller and further solidifying King’s status as a literary powerhouse.
  • Awards: The novel won the 1988 Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel, an award recognizing superior achievement in horror writing.
  • Adaptations: Misery was adapted into a successful 1990 film directed by Rob Reiner and starring Kathy Bates as Annie Wilkes and James Caan as Paul Sheldon. Bates won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her chilling portrayal of the deranged nurse.

In conclusion, Misery is a chilling and suspenseful psychological horror novel that offers a gripping exploration of obsession, isolation, and power dynamics in relationships. With its vividly drawn characters, compelling narrative, and masterful pacing, the novel provides an unforgettable reading experience that will leave readers on the edge of their seats. Stephen King’s Misery is an enduring testament to the power of storytelling and the darkness that can lurk within the human mind.


Misery (1990) is a psychological thriller film based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name. Directed by Rob Reiner and adapted for the screen by William Goldman, the film stars Kathy Bates as Annie Wilkes and James Caan as Paul Sheldon. The movie is set primarily in a remote Colorado cabin, where the tension between the two main characters builds up throughout the story.

The plot revolves around Paul Sheldon, a successful novelist known for his series of romance novels featuring the character Misery Chastain. After finishing a new manuscript, Paul suffers a car accident during a blizzard and is rescued by Annie Wilkes, a former nurse and a fan of his Misery novels. When Annie discovers that Paul has killed off Misery in his latest book, she becomes enraged and holds him captive in her home, forcing him to write a new novel that brings Misery back to life.

Misery is a suspenseful, gripping story that explores themes such as obsession, control, and the dark side of fandom. The film is notable for its intense performances, especially that of Kathy Bates, who won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of the unhinged Annie Wilkes. The movie received widespread critical acclaim, and is often regarded as one of the best film adaptations of Stephen King’s works. The confined setting, claustrophobic atmosphere, and character-driven plot make Misery a compelling and memorable cinematic experience.

Misery (1990)



Explore the life and work of Stephen King, one of the most prolific and successful authors of our time. With a career spanning over four decades, King has terrified and captivated readers worldwide with his chilling tales of horror and supernatural suspense. This comprehensive biography covers King’s early life, education, career, top books, interesting facts, and his numerous awards and honors.


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