Sleeping Beauties – Review

“The world didn’t seem weird then; the world didn’t seem like the world at all, but like another place that you had been flipped into.”

Out of nowhere, women who fall asleep are covered in a cocoon like substance. A gauze that sustains them, protects them, and if broken incites a violence from the sleeping woman that the world isn’t prepared for.

A woman, mysterious and only willing to give the name Eve Black, arrives in a sleepy, small Appalachian town, the same day this sleeping illness begins. Coincidence? Perhaps. When it becomes clear that Evie is immune to whatever is causing women worldwide to fall asleep and not wake up, forces begin to splinter. One side to protect her. One side to force answers from her. The only question is, who is right?

“Stories were only stories, but the ones that survived over hundreds of years must contain nuggets of truth. The truth in these two could be: spells could be broken; witches could be destroyed.”

For August, our #awesomeAFbuddyreads was a little ambitious and decided to tackle the behemoth book, Sleeping Beauties. Landing at an impressive 700 pages, this book is by far the largest we’ve read in our group to date. It was also a bit different than some of our other choices, and being an avid King fan, I was incredibly excited to dive in to this beauty! I was not disappointed.

Once again, Stephen King has built an immersive world, this time with his son, Owen King. I’ll admit, I’ve never actually read any of Owen King’s novels, but the writing collaboration in this novel felt seamless. I forgot it was a father/son duo because it felt so so Stephen King. I am interested in reading more from Owen, just so I can get a sense of what his individual style might be. Plus, if he writes like his father, I’m already a fan!

There are many things I love about King’s writing and his worlds. They feel so real, so vivid, that they could be the world we live in today, but obviously, things happen and exist, that you wouldn’t want to face in reality. I know that this is done a lot in fiction, but King grasps human nature, and is able to portray characters so believable, so lifelike, that the world building feels more whole because of it. Sleeping Beauties is no different.

“If there was one thing he knew, it was that wild went two ways — the danger a wild animal presented to others, and the danger that others presented to a wild animal.”

On the surface, this appears to be a conversation about gender, and particularly feminism. But, I think to leave it there is simply to miss the deeper nuance and exploration into human nature that King does so incredibly well. Yes, this is a book about women falling asleep and what the world looks like without them. It’s a book that shows women being offered a chance to start again, to guide future boys and men into potentially better people. But, really, the message here is balance.

Both worlds are flawed, and both worlds experience violence and wrong-doing. This isn’t a feminist manifesto, saying that the world plunged into darkness the moment women fell asleep. Some men did better. But some did worse. Many, simply tried to stay the same. This is a novel that pulls apart the extremes and explores the meaning of them. It explores the value of both sides, and the majority who fall in the middle. The voiceless neutral ground, that often gets ignored in debates and discussions. King has once again shown that people are capable of extreme good and extreme bad. But they’re also capable of being both, simultaneously and complexly. That is the thing I love most about his novels.

“Except, really, when had men not been mystified by women? They were the magic that men dreamed of, and sometimes their dreams were nightmares.”

As far as book club choices, this was such an excellent book to discuss! There are so many characters, so many smaller plot lines, wrapped within the larger discussion, that made every chat we had so much fun. It is complex and diverse, and a book that is sure to have a multitude of opinions to go along with it. I know it did within our group.

Readers who do not enjoy an enormous cast of characters, or intricate storylines that don’t always intersect, may find themselves lost in the hundreds of pages of this book. King isn’t for everyone, and even within his fanbase, not all his novels are wins. For me, I really enjoyed this book. It was everything I find I love in a King novel. It’s more fantasy than horror, but there is plenty of atrocity to satisfy those gory urges. If you’ve read this beast, I’d love to know your thoughts!!! Comment below!

If you haven’t seen yet, we’re reading Alice by Christina Henry for our September choice, and we’ve just announce that we’re reading The Rules Of Magic by Alice Hoffman. Be sure to follow me @jenabrownwrites on Instagram, and my fellow AF co-hosts, @jennsbookvibes @hollyslittlebookreviews and @bookncatsncoffee!

4 thoughts on “Sleeping Beauties – Review

  1. This one was not a King-win for me, sadly. I thought the fantasy elements were really interesting and are what I really love about King’s work, but I found those aspects stymied by the message the book was trying to tell. I think you are right on in saying that the book is about balance and finding actual equality between the genders. I kept waiting for the hopeful message about how to get there and I never found it. I guess I’m just not a fan of medium endings. I either want things to go horribly, or end on a hopeful note. I got some of what I wanted from Sleeping Beauties from Vox, even though it lacks the fantasy completely.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally understand! I’m usually not a fan of these types of endings, but maybe because he doesn’t always answer or wrap up his books made me okay with it. I do wonder if there are some hidden threads in other books of his regarding Evie. He does have a way of intertwining his novels and stories in that way 🖤

      Liked by 1 person

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