In this spectacular father/son collaboration, Stephen King and Owen King tell the highest of high-stakes stories: what might happen if women disappeared from the world of men?
In a future so real and near it might be now, something happens when women go to sleep: they become shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze. If they are awakened, if the gauze wrapping their bodies is disturbed or violated, the women become feral and spectacularly violent. And while they sleep they go to another place, a better place, where harmony prevails and conflict is rare.
One woman, the mysterious “Eve Black,” is immune to the blessing or curse of the sleeping disease. Is Eve a medical anomaly to be studied? Or is she a demon who must be slain? Abandoned, left to their increasingly primal urges, the men divide into warring factions, some wanting to kill Eve, some to save her. Others exploit the chaos to wreak their own vengeance on new enemies. All turn to violence in a suddenly all-male world.
Set in a small Appalachian town whose primary employer is a women’s prison, Sleeping Beauties is a wildly provocative, gloriously dramatic father-son collaboration that feels particularly urgent and relevant today.
Stephen King is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. His recent work includes Sleeping Beauties (co-written with his son Owen King), End of Watch, the short story collection The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, Finders Keepers, Mr. Mercedes (an Edgar Award winner for Best Novel and now an AT&T Audience Network original television series), Doctor Sleep, and Under the Dome. His novel 11/22/63—a recent Hulu original television series event—was named a top ten book of 2011 by The New York Times Book Review and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller as well as the Best Hardcover Book Award from the International Thriller Writers. His epic works The Dark Tower and It are the basis for major motion pictures. He is the recipient of the 2014 National Medal of Arts and the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He lives in Bangor, Maine, with his wife, novelist Tabitha King.
Owen King is the author of the novel Double Feature and We’re All in This Together: A Novella and Stories. He is the coauthor of Intro to Alien Invasion and the coeditor of Who Can Save Us Now? Brand-New Superheroes and Their Amazing (Short) Stories. He lives in Upstate New York with his wife, the writer Kelly Braffet, and their daughter.
Date of Birth:September 21, 1947
Place of Birth:Portland, Maine
Education:B.S., University of Maine at Orono, 1970
This delicious first collaboration between Stephen King (Doctor Sleep) and his son Owen (Intro to Alien Invasion) is a horror-tinged realistic fantasy that imagines what could happen if most of the women of the world fall asleep, leaving men on their own. No one in Dooling County figures the sickness will affect their rural Appalachian life, but TV images of women asleep and unable to be woken, with white membranous stuff wrapped around their heads, makes residents undeniably distraught. Dr. Clinton Norcross of the Dooling Women’s Correctional Facility finds himself unexpectedly in charge of 114 female prisoners when an unhappy guard slips a bunch of Xanax into the coffee of warden Janice Coates, causing her to fall asleep and succumb to the sickness. Clinton’s wife, county sheriff Lila Norcross, is called to the scene of a double murder and explosion; en route, she nearly runs down a half-naked woman standing in the middle of the highway. That woman, Evie, seems to have some connection to the peculiar goings-on, though no one knows what it might be. The authors’ writing is seamless and naturally flowing. The book gets off to a slow start because of the amount of setup needed, but once the action begins, it barrels along like a freight train. Agent: Chuck Verrill, Darhansoff & Verrill Literary; Amy Williams, Williams Company. (Sept.)
“Stephen King and son team up for a beauty of a horror tale [that is] epic, ambitious, heartbreaking and, when it comes to its central horrors, all too timely. Sleeping Beauties melds the elder King’s talent for exploring the darker sides of human nature when people are thrust into terrifying situations with his youngest son’s gift for juggling multiple genres and complex characters. The final chapters bring all their skills together in a fast-paced, explosive finale and emotional aftermath. A thought-provoking work that examines a litany of modern-day issues.” USA Today
“It’s a violent, dystopian thrill ride that will leave you horrified– and hooked.”People
“Entertaining. . . Sleeping Beauties is a bulging, colourful epic; a super-sized happy meal, liberally salted with supporting characters and garnished with splashes of arterial ketchup. This epic feels so vital and fresh.” The Guardian
“King fans who enjoy his blunt language and vivid gore will find lots to like.” Associated Press
“A fast-paced thriller [that is] ambitious and sympathetic, Sleeping Beauties is both a love letter to women everywhere and an incisive look at what drives men to violence, neatly wrapped in enough fantasy elements to soften the more caustic edges of the commentary. From “Carrie” to “Dolores Claiborne” to “Lisey’s Story” and beyond, Stephen King’s compassion for women is an identifying characteristic of much of his work, and “Sleeping Beauties” continues the trend. The Kings have created deeply textured women to populate their book.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Sleeping Beauties is an ambitious work that combines some age-old Stephen King themes with a distinctly sci-fi premise. Sleeping Beauties is no “take your kid to work” project on Stephen King’s behalf. Owen King is an accomplished author in his own right, and their collaboration reflects positively on both. No matter which King was tapping the keys, readers will enjoy a riveting novel with plenty of characters to root for, and to root against ... and, in another King trademark, to root both for and against.” Bangor Daily News
“This delicious first collaboration between Stephen King and his son Owen is a horror-tinged realistic fantasy that imagines what could happen if most of the women of the world fall asleep, leaving men on their own. The authors’ writing is seamless and naturally flowing. Once the action begins, [SLEEPING BEAUTIES] barrels along like a freight train.” Publishers Weekly
“Another horror blockbuster, Mercedes and all, from maestro King and his heir apparent...In a kind of untold Greek tragedy meets Deliverance meets—well, bits of Mr. Mercedes and The Shawshank Redemption, perhaps—King and King, father and son, take their time putting all the pieces into play: brutish men, resourceful women who've had quite enough, alcohol, and always a subtle sociological subtext, in this case of rural poverty and dreams sure to be dashed...A blood-splattered pleasure.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Following the renewed interest in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and an increasing climate of wolf-whistle politics, this examination of gender stereotypes, systems of oppression, and pervasive misogyny within American culture feels especially timely...The large cast of characters allows for a multitude of narrative perspectives—from both the affected women and the men they’ve left behind. Violent, subversive, and compulsively readable. The true horror of this father-son-penned novel derives more from its unflinchingly realistic depiction of hatred and violence against women than from the supernatural elements.” Library Journal
“The novel provides enough action, thrills and humor to keep readers burning the midnight oil....There’s comfort to be found in tales such as this... Sleeping Beauties is a well-tooled horror thriller, a worthy venture from a productive family business.” —San Francisco ChronicleFrom the Publisher
Women worldwide are falling prey to an unusual sleeping sickness that shrouds them in a white cocoon. Anyone who tries to interrupt their otherworldly slumber are killed, as the somnambulic women turn murderous. In a small, economically depressed Appalachian town, Evie emerges half-naked from a trailer park to smite an abusive drug dealer before she's arrested and put in the local women's prison just as the outbreak reaches a fever pitch. While the males ponder a world without women, the enigmatic Evie remains unaffected. Meanwhile, the sleeping women are in an alternate dimension, a near-postapocalyptic version of their hometown. Following the renewed interest in Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale and an increasing climate of wolf-whistle politics, this examination of gender stereotypes, systems of oppression, and pervasive misogyny within American culture feels especially timely, though the exploration is centered in a cisgender, fairly heteronormative experience. VERDICT Violent, subversive, and compulsively readable, this latest novel from King (Mr. Mercedes), collaborating here with son Owen (Double Feature), derives more horror from its realistic depiction of violence against women than from the supernatural elements.—Kiera Parrott, School Library Journal and Library Journal
★ 2017-07-04Kirkus Reviews
Another horror blockbuster, Mercedes and all, from maestro King (End of Watch, 2016, etc.) and his heir apparent (Double Feature, 2013, etc.).A radio crackles in the cold Appalachian air. "We got a couple of dead meth cookers out here past the lumberyard," says the dispatcher. A big deal, you might think, in so sparsely populated a place, but there are bigger issues to contend with: namely, half-naked women appearing out of the mist, as if to taunt the yokels. But that's nothing: the womenfolk of the holler are drifting off to sleep one after another, and they become maenads on being disturbed, ready to wreak vengeance on any dude stupid enough to demand that they make him a sandwich. In a kind of untold Greek tragedy meets Deliverance meets—well, bits of Mr. Mercedes and The Shawshank Redemption, perhaps—King and King, father and son, take their time putting all the pieces into play: brutish men, resourceful women who've had quite enough, alcohol, and always a subtle sociological subtext, in this case of rural poverty and dreams sure to be dashed. But forget the fancy stuff. The meat of the story is a whirlwind of patented King-ian mayhem: "It wasn't every day," observes our narrator, "that you were taking a whiz in your drug dealer's trailer and World War III broke out on the other side of the flimsy shithouse door," delivered courtesy of a woman—half-naked, yes—who's pounding the tar out of a miscreant, smacking his face into the nearest wall. Is this what gender relations have come to? In the Kings' near future, so it would seem. The boys get their licks in, too, even if a woman scorned—or awakened too soon—can do an awful lot of damage to an unwary bike gang. A blood-splattered pleasure. It's hard to say what the deeper message of the book is save that life goes on despite the intercession of supernatural weirdnesses—or, as one woman says, "I guess I really must not be dead, because I'm starving."