Book review - Sleeping Beauties, Stephen King & Owen King
Women - those who bear the ‘thought burden’, those who do the nurturing, those who are responsible for the “reining in” of erratic behaviour. Stunningly simple, the thematical concept behind SLEEPING BEAUTIES is not to visualize the horror and drama as the world is slowly broken down, but more to realize how simple and obvious making this happen might be.
As you would expect with the epic novels of this size, SLEEPING BEAUTIES has a cast of thousands and the reader will need to keep on top of all that, in particular as the siege of the women’s prison continues. Lots of guys with guns all fighting what they think is the good fight. Stephen King has obviously been here before (not necessarily geographically - though any fan of King knows that many of his towns and folk do crossover in a freakishly satisfying way) as his legacy novels like THE STAND set new benchmarks for post-apocalyptic works. Benchmarks, that just quietly, may never be vaulted over by other authors. King is King. He does these “rise above the common doom” novels extremely well.
It is easy (and quite fun!) to imagine that a savage edit might have taken place to remove the odd literary swipe at present day government and industry leaders. Messrs King masterfully duck and weave around the particulars and instead illustrate the domestic oppressions and expectations still placed on women via poignant little vignettes that strike uncomfortable and familiar chords.
The identifiable everyday and the supernatural are fully meshed in SLEEPING BEAUTIES and it’s a testament to the writers skill that soon we don’t question when the otherworldly inclusions appear. It is not a full scale good versus evil battle here in this novel but the take home will unsettle regardless. Allow a few days to switch off and take it all in.
Right on the money as he always is, Stephen King - with his co-writer son Owen King - addresses here a premise that is ridiculously and soberingly topical. What is it that could bring down society in such a dramatically short space of time? The withdrawing of the women.
The sleeping sickness that affects women only initially starts in the lower half of the world and rapidly progresses to the northern continents. If a woman falls asleep, she is immediately cocooned within a cobweb like shroud. Should anyone attempt to remove the fibres, the sleeper immediately wakes and does her best to bludgeon to death whoever was foolish enough to wake her from her slumber.
A small town in Appalachia struggles to cope with the anarchy that immediately follows as more women fall asleep. In this town there is a women’s prison. For the women that are still awake as one day rolls into the next, the fight to keep awake is only their first battle. The appearance of the mysterious and beautiful Evie, seemingly immune to “Aurora”, and an efficient killer to boot, results in her transport to the prison where things are rapidly falling apart. Does she need to be protected, or does she need to be killed in order to save the women of the town?