Woom: An Extreme Horror Novel by Duncan Ralston
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Finally returning to the one place that's caused him a great deal of pain in his life, Angel hires Shyla - a prostitute that has no idea what's in store for her. Settling down into Room Six at the Lonely Motel, Angel begins their encounter with stories of that very room - terrible stories that Shyla finds hard to believe. Just what is Angel's motive? Shyla will inevitably find out, one way or the other.
(WARNING: This review contains spoilers.)
One thing's for sure - this one will stay with me for a while to come, it's even possible that I'll never forget it. It's seared into my mind, each and every disturbing tale that left Angel's lips. Despite becoming so engrossed in the twisted playground that is Ralston's imagination, I actually needed to take several breaks throughout and come up for air. I'm fairly new to the whole "extreme" side of horror, and whilst I enjoy the pushing of limits and whatnot, I feel small doses are best. Admittedly, one particular story actually caused me to feel a bit sick. Don't get me wrong, I consider myself having a strong stomach, but there's some things that just freak me out, and what transpired with Mary in "Woom" was one of those things. Perhaps it's because what Mary did to herself wasn't far-fetched at all; it's a very real thing that women in the world still do to themselves, or maybe it's just because I own a vagina and the descriptive detail offended my female parts.
Below are the respective parts of the book, and the "theme" for each tale.
Room 6 - Essentially the introduction, where Angel and Shyla first met. I admit, Angel gave off that serial killer vibe from the beginning, despite being all gentlemanly and polite.
Cram(ps) - What's the term? Stuff or swallow? Boy, this one was unpleasant to start with, but Ralston just had to add icing to the cake. It got considerably worse. (Drug muling, miscarriage.)
Pro(lapse) - Probably my least favourite of the lot. It didn't deal directly with Angel or Shyla, but added some rather bizarre humour. (Rectal prolapse.)
Woom - As I've already stated, this one made me feel sick. I don't even want to think about it anymore. (Bathroom abortion.)
(S)mother - It was Shyla's turn to share. I wasn't surprised at all by her account - someone in her profession would obviously meet all sorts. (Account of rape, asphyxiophilia.)
Man(nequin) - This was my favourite! I didn't see it coming. At first I felt sorry for Bethany, but she was absolutely mad as all hell by the end. (Mutilation.)
(Still)born Again - The climax of it all, and what a climax it was. I knew Angel had something in mind, but I didn't know just how twisted it was. (Rebirthing.)
I know a lot of people are put off by an authors intent to shock and disgust, and I'd agree if the plot suffered and was nothing more than fluff. I, however, think there was a clear, thought-provoking story here; one of hardship after hardship, and a person's tragic connection to a specific place. Angel was, by all means, a very traumatised individual that obviously needed professional help, yet I suppose, in a way, professional help is exactly what he received from Shyla. Do I believe the room itself had anything to do with it? Well, it was definitely odd that that specific room was the stage to most of the events, and considering the number of the room, it was implied something more was going on. I, however, don't think the room was "evil", or had any paranormal connections. Perhaps negativity just attracted negativity.
I was spurred on to do a bit of research of my own after finishing, regarding the rebirthing therapy. I love it when something I read prompts me to delve deeper into a topic I wouldn't otherwise be interested in, or even know about. Whilst Angel took it WAY too far in the end, the practice itself, specifically the blanket / pillow version, is heavily controversial. What's especially harrowing, is the story of Candace Newmaker; a ten year old girl who died during a seventy-minute session. I recommend reading about it, if you're into that sort of thing!
Originally I gave a rating of three, but I've increased it to much-deserved four. I'm glad I happened across this on Amazon!
In conclusion - Very well done, but not for the faint of heart. Includes highly sensitive material. I'll be reading more of Ralston's work in the future - something about the dark and twisted is addicting.
"You should always listen to that voice when something doesn't feel right. Always look for the red flags. Stop worrying about being nice, about making a scene. I know that now."
© Red Lace 2018