The Sleep by Jim Goforth is a horror novel following a group of young adults investigating a phenomenon surrounding a small town. Through forums on the internet, they learn of giant storms that tear through this town and bring with it monsters and decide to travel there to see for themselves. However, things get a little more complicated than they were first expecting. If you don’t adhere to ‘The Sleep’ and end up seeing these monsters, you will die. And, on top of that, they have some pretty stand-offish townspeople to deal with.
At the beginning, the novel moves quickly, and the plot and idea of ‘The Sleep’ is intriguing enough to keep you reading on. There is a good balance between the mystery and things actually being revealed, so you do not find yourself growing bored with the investigation and simply wanting answers. This is a very plot driven novel, which works well. The characters are not very fleshed out, but this is understandable when the plot moves so fast.
However, when introducing characters, Goforth tends to go with the blatant rather than the subtle. The very start of the book introduces the characters to the reader by explicitly stating their motives for going on the expedition. They literally get titles; ‘The Sceptic’, ‘The Party-Girl’, ‘The Would-Be-Journalist’. While this is an interesting approach, I’m not sure how well it works as a narrative device. Also, when introduced like this, the characters all seem very much like horror-movie-clichés. It almost reminds me of Joss Whedon’s film ‘The Cabin in the Woods’, although these clichés are used as a plot device. They are just, unfortunately, part of the novel. But with a plot driven book, this isn’t a giant issue.
The novel is quite slow in showing the reader who the main character actually is. At the start, you are given the thoughts and feelings of all seven members of the crew, and slowly you realise that it is Bryan who is the lead. This brings some issues with it as you feel less connected to your main character as you were never sure if he was in fact important enough to consider.
The only other issue is that the book is definitely longer than it needs to be, and could do with some drastic cuts – there are scenes that can either be shortened or removed completely. Other than that, and a pretty cringy sex-scene (including a character ‘impaling herself’ and a ‘snug, hot tunnel’), this is actually a well written, well-edited novel. The idea of ‘The Sleep’ and the storms is something I haven’t come across before, which was refreshing to read. If you enjoy horror, and horror novels, then consider picking this one up. I’m sure you could do a lot worse when looking at indie-horror books to read – this is one of the good ones.
By Jim Goforth
Obscure urban legends and monstrous myths abound all over the internet, and none are more obscure or bizarre than the one purported to haunt the strange, remote and oddly named town of Growling and its surrounds.
Here, the communities are plagued by freakish weather phenomena, aberrant lightning and something even worse that arrives in the midst of these irregular storms. Here, all denizens adhere stringently with the unwritten rules of what they all know as The Sleep. Here, the way of life for folk is dictated to by the BeastStorms.
When a group of friends, including an amateur horror film maker, an urban legend and supernatural enthusiast, a sceptic and a journalist, among others, stumble across the vague tale online, each have their own reasons for wanting to discover the veracity of the peculiar legend.
Now, they are on a road trip that’s taken them thousands of miles from their comfortable city existences and right into the domain of The Sleep. Where mistrusting, superstitious locals patrol the neighbourhoods in packs with ominous warnings for intruders and unwelcome passers-through. Where dissenters are run out of town to live as outcasts on the fringes of civilization. Where repercussions are severe for those who don’t take heed of warnings to abide by the rules of the land.
Where unholy storms unlike anything ever experienced before, dredge up something more than insane weather. Something monstrous.
Every so often, among all those many legends easily explainable, or proved to be nothing more than pure hoax, there’s one with more than a kernel of truth to it.
One like the BeastStorms.