TITLE: SLEEPING BEAUTIES
AUTHOR: Owen King & Stephen King
BLURB: All around the world, something is happening to women when they fall asleep; they become shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze. If awakened, if the gauze wrapping their bodies is disturbed, the women become feral and spectacularly violent…
In the small town of Dooling, West Virginia, the virus is spreading through a women’s prison, affecting all the inmates except one. Soon, word spreads about the mysterious Evie, who seems able to sleep – and wake. Is she a medical anomaly or a demon to be slain?
The abandoned men, left to their increasingly primal devices, are fighting each other, while Dooling’s Sheriff, Lila Norcross, is just fighting to stay awake.
And the sleeping women are about to open their eyes to a new world altogether…
Apart from the fact that a Stephen King novel is almost always an entertaining read, what attracted me to this novel was the notion of a father/son collaboration. I hadn’t read any of Owen King’s other work, comedy not being one of my areas of interest, and it appealed to me to see what his influence on the story might be. I also thought the focus on absent women and the possibility of looking at what men might do if this ever came to pass (okay I know it’s not likely, but maybe it would be a scaled up version of what it would be like if all the women in one’s family left for some or various reasons).
It was in some ways a brave thing for two male writers to do and I was curious would they be able to pull it off considering they had to not only explore what men might think and do in this situation, but also see things from the female perspective and get that perspective across.
Needless to say the novel was well written, in a fantasy/speculative fiction sort of way, and the characters, while never reaching the depth of some of King’s other memorable inventions, were formed well enough to keep your interest. There was even a female version of Randall Flagg from The Stand and The Man In Black from the Dark Tower – if that’s not the same person.
It was a valiant effort and at times there was some real insight, but it just didn’t convince me that the female perspective was ever anything more than what two well-heeled white men thought women would think and do. In fairness to the King’s they never laid claim to anything other than providing the reader with a good adventure yarn and Sleeping Beauties provides that. Maybe if Owen King, whose idea the book was based on, had collaborated with his mother, the novelist Tabitha King, this might have been a different experience for all of us.