SLEEPING BEAUTIES vol 2 By Stephen King and Owen King from @IDWPublishing #BookReview #Horror #GraphicNovel

The front cover for Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King. The front cover is grey with a dark moth in the middle, wings outstretched. Plant roots are growing out of the moth's wings and antennae.

SLEEPING BEAUTIES vol 2 By Stephen King and Owen King

IDW Publishing, hb, £11.69

Reviewed by Matthew Johns

The front cover for Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King. The front cover is grey with a dark moth in the middle, wings outstretched. Plant roots are growing out of the moth's wings and antennae.

The women of Dooling and the rest of the world are falling asleep and being covered with a strange, woolly cocoon. If woken, they turn rabid and kill those that woke them and anyone else around them. A strange woman called Eve, who seems to be causing the sleeping sickness and can still wake herself from sleep with no adverse effects, has turned up in town and has been locked away in the county women’s jail. She knows things about people, can read minds and control animals – all very mysterious. An ex-jailer fired for sexually abusing the inmates is riling up the locals and trying to get them to storm the prison to take Eve and do something with her to try to fix the problem, or so he claims. The former prison psychologist is in charge of the prison as the governor fell asleep and hasn’t woken. He’s been told by Eve that the fate of the world is on his shoulders – if the locals storm the prison and kill her, then the women of Dooling, and those of the rest of the world, will never return.

I’m a huge fan of Stephen King – I have loved and devoured his works for a long time. This, though, just doesn’t have the “King magic”. It feels far too much like it’s been written with a checklist of current world problems to include – violence against women, black lives matter, pollution and so forth.

Sadly many of the characters feel a little more stereotypical than the usual King cast of characters – the sexual predator and all-round nasty piece of work ex-jailer, the deputy who struggles with anger management, and whose wife and daughter fell asleep, so he’s joining up with the ex-jailer to take his anger out on the inmates and anyone that gets into his way, psychotic prisoners, ex-drug users, red neck criminals who rob and kill indiscriminately, and a mysterious, eldritch force that is affecting the people of small-town America. The initial concept is interesting, but it feels like it could have been explored further.

As with the first volume, the artwork seems to vary in styles which can be confusing and hard to interpret at times – some pages and sections are beautifully drawn, and then others much less so. Perhaps that is deliberate to better show the chaos in town?

There are plenty of colours used in the frames, with the action not always moving in the traditional left-to-right format – some pages have a mishmash of cells, which can make it a little hard at times to follow them in the correct order. It feels a little like the authors got to the end of their checklist and ran out of steam after a while, though, making the ending seem rushed. While it’s not the finest of Stephen King’s work, if you’re a fan, give it a go.