Plebs by Jim Goforth
Publisher: J. Ellington Ashton Press (January 17, 2014)
Synopsis: Corey Somerset, Tim Hayworth and Lee Hunter have had one hell of a good night. And it isn’t over yet. Celebrating their friend’s birthday with drunken debauchery and intoxicated antics they’ve just stumbled through a mini-wave of mindless vandalism and though they’ve wandered far out of the realms of civilization they are keen to keep the party vibe going. When they encounter a band of mysterious fugitive women who call a bizarre encampment deep in the woods their residence it appears a strong likelihood that continuing the party is on the cards. But it won’t come without a price. The collective of unnerving lawless women are open to the suggestion but not without the threesome completing a request first, a seemingly straight forward barter proposition that will bring the boys face to face with something else that dwells in an unorthodox co-existence with the girls in the wilderness. These are the Plebs and the shocking violent encounter the trio are unwittingly pitched into with these freakish feral fiends may be their first but it won’t be the last. As the shiftless young men become inextricably entwined and involved with the agenda driven dangerous women so too do their fates, with them unravelling killer secrets, duplicity, bloodshed and brutality along the way that encompasses not just them but more of their friends, new enemies and old enemies. A simple night of bad decisions escalates and snowballs into an expedition of terror spanning all the way home and beyond with Corey and his friends engulfed in a nightmare where the lines between man and monster blur. Depravity, death and destruction reign supreme and it isn’t just the Plebs that want them all torn limb from limb.
Night of the Living Dead (1968). The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974). The Hills Have Eyes (1977). Dawn of the Dead (1978). The Evil Dead (1981). All iconic horror films and inspiration for any die-hard horror fan. I was visualizing these movies while I read Plebs by Jim Goforth. This is a strong testament to the author’s work. The whole book had that horror cult/blockbuster feel.
If the above doesn’t clue you in, I’m a massive horror fanatic, in both books and films. It’s always a welcome and refreshing experience to find a book that pays homage to the movies but stands alone as a solid, effective, gut-wrenching, bloody horror tale. There’s a very thin line between homage and rip-off and a lot of books in the past have wobbled severely whilst walking it.
Plebs is the exception to this rule.
This book is drenched in original, inspiring horror folklore and (lovingly) contains several winks to many 70’s/80’s horror movies. The author creates a palpable, visual, visceral world born out of a love for the genre itself. Goforth’s rich descriptions, vivid detail and enjoyable (evil, sexy, mysterious, psychotic, realistic) characters make for a great horror story. This book is no rip-off but an instantly quotable and memorable title due to many horror tropes that some writers find difficult to construct; Jim Goforth manages to pull these things off perfectly.
I’ve had the pleasure of speaking to the author and I know he is a dedicated Richard Laymon fan. The late, great legend of horror carved a niche for himself with his combination of sexual violence and extreme gore. Jim Goforth pays homage to Laymon in many different ways. On every page, there is something that will delight any Laymon fan; be it gore, sex, gorgeous women, cannibalism, monsters, psychological terror and nastier things.
After all, this is horror at its boldest so why leave anything out? Laymon wouldn’t have stood for this; writing for the true fans is what he lived for and I believe Jim Goforth had this mentality when writing Plebs. Writing true horror takes balls and finesse and Plebs was constructed with plenty of both.
So five stars? Oh yes. I doubt I’ll read a more original and chaotic horror book this year. Plebs is a massive achievement. Well done, Jim Goforth!