Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King & Owen King
Published: September 6th 2017
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, and 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.
The men of our world are abandoned, left to their increasingly primal devices. One woman, however, the mysterious Evie, is immune to the blessing or curse of the sleeping disease.
Is Evie a medical anomaly to be studied, or is she a demon who must be slain?
This book has such an interesting premise.
A world where all the women have fallen asleep in cocoons and the men are left to figure things out by themselves. Count me in.
The story is centred around supernatural goddess named Eve or Evie Black whom mocks all men, reads minds, controls a pack of prison rats and commands an army of moths. Sheriff Lila Norcross transports her to the women’s prison outside of town where Dr. Clint Norcross, the Sheriff’s husband, is the prison psychiatrist.
The same day, a worldwide plague known as the “Aurora flu” strikes every woman who enters a state of sleep, after which tendrils grow from her body and form a cocoon from which she does not awake. If you decide to try to remove this cocoon, it will not be a good day for you. Men think the women are more vulnerable and are subjected to assault. Sorta. The men that attempt to assault is something that should happen to all cretins that target women.
We get sound bites of end times from around the globe: riots in D.C., vigilante brigades gathering to torch the cocoons, a jet going down, and “hard right conservatives on talk radio … proclaiming the Aurora virus as proof that God was angry with feminism.” The focus though, remains on the small town.
Dooling’s female correctional facility is ground zero for the Aurora flu, housing the sole female immune from the plague, Evie Black. The question at the novel’s center is how the men of this small Appalachian town will react to the plague. Will they act out backwards male stereotypes, form rabid packs and go after Evie?
The spirits of the cocooned women gather in a parallel world of peace called simply Our Place. Our Place is just past the clearing from which Evie arrived and the “Mother Tree,” the Kings’ version of the tree of knowledge and the portal to Evie’s Eden-like garden populated by a fox and a tiger that talk, a peacock, and a giant snake that slithers up and down the tree.
This fantastic story is definitely something unexpected from Stephen King. There is no horror, uncomfortable violence and basic tropes used to further the story along. Instead, refreshingly, it moves forward solely through his unmistakeable talent. I appreciate the collective feminist views. It was refreshing to see in the pages of a King book.