Sleeping Beauties

King, Stephen & . Scribner. Sept. 2017. 720p. ISBN 9781501163401. $32.50; ebk. ISBN 9781501163425. F
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.
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