Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King

This book should have had everything I love: a million pages, Stephen King’s easygoing prose, thematic elements related to gender and power, and some really weird shit. And yet, it doesn’t rank in my top Stephen King novels. Not even close. I’m not sure what Owen King’s contribution to this book was since I’ve never read anything by him and surely co-writing a book with your dad, Stephen King, isn’t the best way to be introduced to new readers so I reserve all judgment of him until I eventually tackle a solo book.

Sleeping Beauties takes place in Dooling – a small Appalachian town where Clint Norcross works as a therapist at a women’s prison and his wife, Lila, works as the town sheriff. Shit gets real real quick when Evie, a naked lady who seems to read minds, starts to run amok. All over the world, women of all ages start falling asleep and being wrapped in cocoons, but it’s Dooling that is ground zero for how this “virus” plays out and what the world will look like when the virus has run its course. Before and as the virus spreads we see the myriad of ways women are victimized, and obviously becoming completely immobilized and at the mercy of men isn’t exactly a win for the ladies of the world. There are a lot of really shitty men who do really shitty things for really shitty reasons. And a few men who are trying to do the right thing for sometimes good and sometimes questionable reasons.

I won’t get more specific than that. The book has a lot of characters and a lot going on, which is fine with me. It’s another of Stephen King’s crazy long quick reads, and the general premise is interesting to me.


The tendency to paint men and women in broad strokes of evil versus good isn’t helpful and doesn’t add a lot to the conversation about gender equality. In a way, they’re preaching to the choir here, but also if I’m in the choir then I feel a little weird about 2 white dudes telling me how great women are while just about every dude is a piece of garbage. Like I’m not necessarily totally arguing with it, but I’m not totally buying it either. I see them trying to dig deep on both the garbage dudes and the good dudes so we understand why they are the way they are, but I frankly have zero interest in that in this book. Let me see what the ladies are up to, because the dudes are boring and stupid.

The choice at the end of the book is unrealistic and feels like doubling down on gender stereotypes. It feels like a cop-out on a level I can’t fully articulate, and I wish it had been written differently.

For a book about women it sure is mostly about men. I don’t care if it’s mostly about how they suck. That doesn’t make it better. You’re just sidelining women in a book about sidelining women in the world. So… thanks?

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