Book Review – “Sleeping Beauties” by Stephen King and Owen King (2017)
|Stephen King’s latest offering, albeit co-written with his son Owen, is going to divide opinion probably like none before.
I am long term SK fan, first getting hooked on Gerald’s game and then devouring his back catalogue. Every publication that followed was bought on the day of release and the man could do no wrong… until 11.22.63.
I appreciate that many people enjoyed it, but for me, it is one of the worst books of the earliest 21st century not because it is badly written, but because it was utterly meaningless – it went nowhere and had no point.
Whilst I did enjoy the Mr Mercedes sequence, Revival left me ambivalent with its constant homage to Lovecraft.
I, therefore, approached Sleeping Beauties with a sense of trepidation – for me, this was make-or-break with an author I have passionately followed for two and a half decades.
The plot is that women all over the world are falling to an extended and unexplained slumber whilst the men-folk cope badly; some try to wake the women whilst other set fire to the cocoon that has enmeshed them.
Into this slow humanitarian cataclysm, comes Evie who may or may not hold the key to the mystery.
As ever, the King family can write, and they can write well. The first act has the pace of The Running Man, and I kept turning the pages. I bought into most of the characters, and the entire 700+ page novel (mine was the hardback version) kept my attention.
But yet something there is unsatisfying about this novel. This is not the finest steak – it is all you can eat at Pizza Hut, and whilst I felt sated, I didn’t feel satisfied.
However, much in the vein of The Stand, the last third sees several main characters assert their individuality and the sense of urgency that only simmered before now comes to the boil as events come to their cataclysmic finale.
Is this a worthwhile read? Yes, but it is not going to change your life. You will read it once, and then probably never again, but you will recommend it to a friend who will do likewise.
The pervading sense of and claustrophobia and terror that so distinguished the likes of The Shining, Cujo, and Salem’s Lost is sadly lacking. This is by no stretch of the imagination a horror read, but more of a semi-paranormal adventure reminiscent in places of The Talisman and Just Cronin’s The Passage.
Final verdict – not the King’s finest work, but you could do a lot worse.