Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King
Published: 2017 by Hodder & Stoughton
Genre(s): Fiction, Horror, Fantasy
Before I start my review, let it be known that this is the first time I’m reading anything Stephen King (though, I have watched Carrie which I found slightly frightening). This is also the first time I’m reading anything Owen King. So really, I’ve no expectations for this book except for it to be pretty damn scary ’cause who hasn’t seen Pennywise and watched some snippets (if not the entirety/more than half of) It by now?
Unfortunately, Sleeping Beauties is a ‘meh’ yet satisfying read. ‘Meh’ because of the things I didn’t like about it. Satisfying because it took me more or less three months to finish reading it, but hey, I finished reading it!
Now, the first problem I have with this book is the horror. According to Bruce Kawin, “[h]orror is a compound of terror and revulsion” (Horror and the Horror Film, p.3). Having said that, where is the horror?! Sure, there’s a little gore here and there—and that ‘zombie-women-duo’ scene was a little creepy, but one little scene is simply not enough. Really, some pretty lady who’s maybe a magical dryad-witch-plant-goddess-deity-being isn’t terrifying until you make her do terrifying things with an indifferent attitude. Her bleeding heart and the fact that she was incredibly easy to sway by the ones on the ‘good’ side really disappointed me.
Secondly, the ocean of characters introduced here. Although I had no issues keeping up with who is who and all that jazz, I found all of them too two-dimensional. None of the characters are complex enough for me to feel for them, and even if they were developed, it didn’t feel like they were. I think that the story would’ve had a bigger impact on me if King2 had fewer characters (I won’t say ‘more opportunities’ since they had 700+ pages worth of opportunities) to focus on. It would’ve been more believable too.
Also, what’s the point of the peacock? Seriously? The moths have jobs, the rats have jobs, the fox has a job, the tiger has a job (a small and ridiculous one but still a job), and the snake is a snake, but what about the peacock? WHAT ABOUT THE PEACOCK?! I mean, it can be there simply for the sake of symbolism (if you count those brief appearances as something that can amount to symbolism) but that’s a too-shallow significance…
Moving on, the last issue I have with this book is the politics. I’m not saying that authors should refrain from including their own political views and such (or any other view, belief, etc.) from their works, but I would prefer for them to be subtle (allowing the reader to infer than just straight-up fed) or just less dogmatic about it. I read Sleeping Beauties with the mindset of it simply being a novel of certain genres. I didn’t read it as a political book, and while I would normally praise a work capable of allowing the reader to view it in various perspectives, I can’t do the same for this one because well, not all parts are equal. For me, the book worked fine as either up until Part Three where the balance was lost when the story became more list-like and matter of fact.
What I do like about Sleeping Beauties, though, is how the story begins from the actual beginning. It was a little strange since I’m used to stories beginning in the middle or near the end, but it was a nice strange that allowed me to appreciate the details King2 have incorporated into the story. Furthermore, the integration of the supernatural is as seamless as it can get. The arrival of Evie and the tree, the outbreak of the Aurora Flu—it all comes in smoothly and naturally. Thus, the combination of this smooth entrance and the details made the story believable when the characters couldn’t.