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Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King
Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King  

Another horror blockbuster, Mercedes and all, from maestro King and his heir apparent Owen King. 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 subtle 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."

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