Sleeping Beauties – Stephen and Owen King

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What would happen to the world if all the women went to sleep? This is the premise of this new Stephen King novel, a collaboration with his son Owen. It would be interesting to read the supreme lord of horror could make of this subject. It is something that must have crossed most people’s minds at some point in their adult life? Isn’t it?

Across the world women are falling asleep, a mysterious gauze like material covers and cocoons their bodies. The first instinct is to rip the cocoon open, allow them to breathe, to wake them up. Unfortunately this has dire consequences, the women become feral and violent, sometimes killing the person trying to wake them.

The men are left to their primal instincts, in situations alien to them, caring for babies and small male children.

Word gets out, there is one woman who appears to be unaffected by this sleeping sickness (named the aurora virus), the mysterious Evie Black, and all the men want to find her, to see if they can use her to find a cure. When the women go to sleep they are in an “other” world, a world without men, where they can start again. Will they choose to come back?

In the world they left behind, in the town of Dooling, the chaos leads to a stand off at the women’s prison where Evie Black is being protected by the prison psychiatrist. The fate of all the men and women of the world relies on the outcome of the behaviour of a small group of men.

There are a lot of characters to keep track of, lots of diabolical behaviour, many reasons for the women not to come back from the other side. This is a book that needs to be read in a quiet space, you need to concentrate, feel the characters, and follow all the many storylines.

Although this story feels like we may have been here before (The Stand, The Dome)I think in general the King boys have hit the nail on the head, they have managed to base a novel around a very contentious subject, that of gender politics. To write about such a subject takes guts. And there is plenty of blood and guts in this novel.

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