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Desperation is the 37th (or 38th) book published by Stephen King; it was his 31st (or 32nd) novel, and the 26th under his own name. The book was released by Viking on 24 September 1996, on the same day as its "twinner-novel," The Regulators.

Plot summary

Desperation is a story about several people who, while traveling along the desolated Highway 50 in Nevada, are abducted by Collie Entragian, the deputy of the mining town of Desperation. Entragian uses various pretexts for the abductions, right from an arrest for drug possession to “rescuing” a family from a nonexistent gunman. Soon, the captives realize that something is wrong with Entragian, as they observe his bizarre statements and mannerisms, which soon gets escalated to brutal assaults and murder. Further, they began to notice Entragian bleeding both internally and externally, after which he takes young David Carver's mother, Ellen, to the mine, the China Pit. Soon, David realizes that they must escape from Entragian as he might come back and kill all of them. He escapes from his cell and is able to free the others. David has an ability to commune with and receive guidance from God; in addition to this, he is also able to perform Christ-like miracles such as producing sufficient food for a large number of people from a very small amount. After they escape from the police station, a dark shape appears in the cop car. It is revealed to be David's mother, who has started to end up like Entragian.

The survivors' first inclination is to escape Desperation, until David reveals that it is God's will that they confront Tak, an evil being, and seal it in the pit again. Soon David's mother comes and kidnaps one one of the survivors and takes her to the mining pit. The survivors come to understand that Entragian was possessed by an ancient evil, a supernatural entity that calls itself Tak, which had been imprisoned in an old abandoned mineshaft until recent activity by a local mining company unearthed it. Tak has the ability to control the local desert wildlife, such as buzzards, snakes, spiders, scorpions, and coyotes, and can also take more direct control of human hosts, though such manifestation causes rapid deterioration of the host's body. As such, Tak needs to frequently find new hosts to inhabit in order to travel outside the ini, a well in an underground chamber, and Tak’s entryway into this world. Mary Jackson, the kidnapped survivor, escapes Tak and hurts David's mother. Soon, the survivors return to the mining pit and one of them, author Johnny Marinville, sacrifices himself to seal Tak in the pit forever. As they are leaving town, the survivors stop by Mary's car and while in it, David finds in his pocket a hall pass that Johnny gave back to him unknowingly with a message from Johnny on it.



The story was adapted into a television movie that aired on ABC on 23 May 2006. Stephen King wrote the screeplay. It starred Tom Skerritt as Johnny Marinville and Ron Perlman as Deputy Collie Entragian.


There are two audiobook versions of Desperation: an abridged version read by Kathy Bates and an unabridged version read by Stephen King.