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Literature: Gerald's Game
First edition cover

A horror novel by Stephen King. The setup is rather High Concept — during a bondage game proposed by husband Gerald, things go south. Gerald himself ends up dead, and protagonist Jessie Burlingame finds herself in a whole heap of trouble when she's still handcuffed to the bed.

Definitely not to be confused with Geri's Game.


But you said these tropes sounded like fun:

  • Affectionate Nickname: Jessie's father calls her "Punkin".
  • Amplified Animal Aptitude: Prince's intuition is described by King in a way that doesn't feel that farfetched.
  • Amoral Attorney: Gerald is slowly revealed to be one.
  • Attempted Rape: Causes Jessie to kick Gerald in the groin, giving him a fatal heart attack.
  • Better Than Sex: When Jessie finally gets rid of the handcuffs, she feels ecstatic, and thinks that if sex was even half this good, people would be doing it on every street corner.
  • Body Horror
  • Bondage Is Bad: Surprisingly averted; it's the motivation that can be bad, yes, but not the act itself. Of course, you probably won't want to run off and play with some handcuffs right after reading this.
  • Chained to a Bed
  • Creepily Long Arms: One of the more noticable traits of The Space Cowboy.
  • Creepy Souvenir: The Space Cowboy's attire is littered with the bones of past victims.
  • Daddy's Girl: Jessie was like this... until her father sexually molested her.
  • Dangerous Key Fumble: Befalls Jessie when she tries to escape in her car.
  • The Darkness Gazes Back: Jessie never is sure whether or not there is someone in the shadows, watching her at night.
  • Determinator: In between increasingly unsettling and haunting flashbacks that go way back to her childhood, the book is sectioned with Jessie's various attempts at releasing herself from the handcuffs.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Due to her angle on the bed, Jessie is mostly able to only hear Prince eating Gerald's corpse. Mostly.
  • Hearing Voices
  • Humanoid Abomination: How Jessie sees The Space Cowboy, in her dazed and near mad state.
  • I Love the Dead: The creepy stranger Jessie sees is Raymond Andrew Joubert, a necrophiliac serial killer and cannibal, who regularly broke into crypts and mortuaries for years and violated male corpses.
  • I'm a Man, I Can't Help It: How Goody Burlingame, the more submissive voice Jessie's head, tries to rationalise Gerald's attempt at rape.
  • Kinky Cuffs: After a while, Gerald only finds Jessie sexually attractive if she's tied to the bed. Unfortunately, he likes to use real handcuffs. However, he could only get the type made for males; this is what makes Jessie's escape possible.
  • Life or Limb Decision: Not exactly, but close enough. Jessie eventually breaks a glass and effectively scalps her hand, so blood would serve as a lubricant and allow her to pull her hand through the cuff.
  • Living Shadow: How Jessie percieves The Space Cowboy
  • Looks Like Orlok: The creepy stranger, mostly.
  • Meaningful Background Event: References to a dark barking in the woods are spread throughout the first two chapters or so.
  • Parental Incest: And not just confined to backstory either. No, King tackles this ugliness head on.
  • Psychological Horror: In spades.
  • Room Full of Crazy: Insane and mortally wounded woman chained to a bed, a naked, half-eaten corpse lying on the floor, a carnivorous, emotionally volatile dog, and an ominous stranger covered with human bones standing in the corner of the room? You just hit the jackpot.
  • Signature Style: Stream-of-consciousness writing? Italicized, parenthetical snatches of phrases representing the main character's little brainfarts? Multiple contexts for the same phrase, all of them disturbing? Must be a Stephen King book.
  • Vomiting Cop: Sheriff Norris Ridgewick throws up, when he finds what is in the truck of Raymond Andrew Joubert, a necrophiliac cannibal (for example, a sandwich with a human tongue). A character says that "the State Police would have torn him a new asshole if he'd puked on the evidence. On the other hand, I'd have wanted him removed from his job for psychological reasons if he hadn't thrown up."
  • Iron Woobie: Jessie situation turns her into one.

Full Dark, No StarsWorks By Stephen KingThe Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon
The GeneralLiterature of the 1990sGet In The Van

alternative title(s): ptitle6i2bph46; Geralds Game
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