The year 2017 has certainly proved to be the Year of King with the releases of IT and THE DARK TOWER on the big screen as well as GERALD’S GAME, MR. MERCEDES and THE MIST on the small screen, not to mention several new limited edition releases and books released about the master of horror.
But of course what really whets our appetites as King’s Constant Readers is the release of a new tome of terror, a nice thick book that will keep us happy for 7-8 months until the next is released. With SLEEPING BEAUTIES, an enormous 700+ page book, we’re of course treated to not one King, but two. Father and son, Owen King, have teamed up for the first time for this apocalyptic horror story set in the small Appalachian town of Dooling.
As dawn awakens on Dooling, a sleeping “sickness” starts to trickle in the community and as announced around the globe through news and social media. The sickness however, dubbed “Aurora”, is only affecting women. Women who were asleep when the epidemic began, and who fall asleep afterwards, don’t wake up. They enter a state of catatonic hibernation type sleep and a cocoon-like webbing envelopes their faces. Chaos ensues quickly to those who try waking them up as the women wake up violent and murderous.
The town of Dooling appears as the epicenter of the world-wide “Aurora” virus for a mysterious visitor who names herself Eve Black arrives in the sleepy little town as the virus begins. After her own murderous rampage, Eve is transported to Dooling’s women’s prison. A monster responsible for the pending apocalypse in a prison full of women under a strange curse, what could go wrong here? Well, it’s a Stephen and Owen King story, so quite enough!
Eve appears to be the responsible party in the “Aurora” virus, with her ways to communicate with animals, her ability to sleep and wake and her knowledge of people’s private lives, but most importantly because she warns that if she dies, the women won’t wake up. While turmoil erupts in Dooling’s prison and community, the outside world is no different.
SLEEPING BEAUTIES has a huge cast of characters, so big that a reference list is included at the book’s beginning, and where most of King’s books have fleshed-out characters, the number of characters in SLEEPING BEAUTIES does not allow for that, and this may be a drawback for some readers. However, the quick page-turning action starts on page one and doesn’t let up. The blend of the two writers is stunningly perfect, classic tense King action that we haven’t seen in decades.
Words: Jonathan Reitan