Sleeping Beauties

February 2, 2018 at 5:00 pm (Reads) (, )

sleepingSleeping Beauties by Stephen King & Owen King


A new Stephen King book is always an event for me, even when he’s co-writing it with someone else. The Talisman? Yep. Black House? Oh, yeah. Gwendy’s Button Box? I’m all over that like ants on sugar. So when Sleeping Beauties came out, I knew I was going to read it, no matter who the other author would be.

The story is about Evie, a mysterious woman who suddenly appears in a small Appalachian town, just before women around the world begin falling asleep and wind up wrapped in a cocoon. They don’t wake from the sleep, and attempting to remove the cocoon results in mindlessly violent results, so the men have to decide how to handle the situation. Evie, who can sleep and wake without effects, is the linchpin, and how the men of the town choose to resolve the problem will determine how all the women will remain by the end of the story.

It seems clear that the Kings were trying to write a feminist story, and while I think they succeeded, it’s still a feminist book written by two men. The women here were all strong characters, and the authors do a good job of creating a varied cast of strong women, but the real character arc in the book was a man’s, as he comes to terms with his own toxic masculinity in order to be able to better relate to the women in his life. Plus, the women in the story have a chance to live a life without men, and the authors present that life as a utopia where they can raise men right, but in the end they choose to go back, for no convincing reason that I could see.

For the first half of the book, there’s a decent and compelling subplot involving the two main characters, regarding whether the husband cheated on the wife. There’s a huge amount of tension surrounding it, and it’s told in a way that neither one can trust the other, and it’s a strong part of what kept me reading through the duller parts of the story in the beginning. Unfortunately, it was resolved halfway through the book, rather anticlimactically, and doesn’t feel satisfying. I think the authors included the subplot to make commentary on male-female relationships, but I can’t help but feel like it would have been more impactful if they had maintained it through the entire book.

According to interviews, the story idea was Owen’s, and he tried to give it to his dad to write. Stephen lobbed it back to Owen with some ideas, and from those seeds the collaboration grew. Also in interviews, the two Kings mention that the back-and-forth nature of how they wrote the book together meant that the book doesn’t read like a Stephen King book, nor does it read like an Owen King book; instead, they adopted a third, combined voice for the book.

I can attest that this doesn’t read like a usual Stephen King book. It doesn’t have the page-turning compulsion that his books do, though it does have the ridiculous cast of characters, the Psychic Connection That Rules All characteristic, and it feels overlong and overly detailed. As for Owen’s style, I can’t comment on the differences, because I haven’t read one of his books.

The story is a decent one, and it’s a ray of sunshine compared to the sexist dreck that made up a lot of horror in the 1980s (and lives on through the works of Bentley Little), but it’s still not up to par with some of the newer horror coming from the new authors. It will sell, though, thanks to the authors’ names, though I can’t help but feel like Elder King’s Constant Readers will be disappointed with it.

Fortunate Musical Connection: “Sleeping Beauty” by A Perfect Circle

Started: November 4, 2017
Finished: November 14, 2017

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