Sleeping Beauties
by King, Stephen; King, Owen

In a near-future where women succumb to a sleeping disease and men revert to their primal natures, one mysteriously immune woman struggles to survive in an Appalachian town where she is treated as both a demon and a lab specimen.

A sleeping sickness quickly takes over the world, affecting only females. As they drift off (and enter a different dimension, the reader soon learns), a white, mossy substance covers them, leaving them in a sort of cocoon. No one knows why or how this is happening, but it soon becomes clear that trying to wake any of these sleeping beauties results in deadly, horrifying acts. Evie appears in town out of nowhere and seems to be the only female unaffected by this event-but she's got supernatural powers, natch. The Kings set their tale in a small Appalachian town, home to a women's prison. Dr. Clinton Norcross, the staff psychiatrist, finds himself in charge as all of the female leadership falls asleep. It might not seem so hard to run a prison of sleeping women, right? Well, it's not so easy when Evie is there, still awake and doing strange things, and Norcross' wife, Lila-the town sheriff-succumbs despite her best efforts. This allegorical fantasy has a rich premise but is overly long, which may put off readers who aren't already King fans.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Two Kings in one, father and son, are bound to attract readers. Copyright 2017 Booklist 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 su btle 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." Copyright Kirkus 2017 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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