Written by: Duncan Ralston
A mysterious man holes up in a dingy hotel room with a prostitute, where he tells her interrelated tales of woe with nefarious intent.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
In my research into the world of extreme horror literature, Woom was the name I kept coming across again and again. Expecting the absolute worst of the worst, I dove right in, and what I found instead was a beautiful (though admittedly pretty disgusting) tale of childhood trauma and Freudian psychology with a Faustian twist. Within Woom are several tales of debauchery, with themes running the gamut from drugs to self-help. By the time the story comes to a pretty astounding conclusion, which I saw coming from a mile away, I still found myself shaking my head at the audacity to actually take the story all the way there.
Writer Duncan Ralston knows how to keep your attention, and he does so throughout by delivering some of the most twisted turns imaginable while telling the tale of Angel, a mysterious man who seems obsessed with a specific motel room in a rundown roadside lodging. He calls up a local plus-sized prostitute named Shyla, described in ways that would make Ursula jealous. Angel begins to tell Shyla stories as he plays with her, and after she lets her guard completely down, things... take a turn.
Woom feels like a complete story, not written simply to disturb its audience but not being afraid to either. There are laugh out loud moments, though they might have been unintentional, and the more ludicrous the plot the more fun it becomes. Ralston is going for discomfort, and he definitely achieves it throughout. He also creates two characters which are exceptionally likeable, a difficult undertaking in a book like this but one that he accomplishes with ease.
The title of the book itself is a delightful play on words that I won't spoil here, but it goes without saying that every piece of the puzzle here is placed intentionally and without remorse. Ralston's writing has a mean streak and he knows it, and he forces his readers to go down these perilous roads with him in the search for a conclusion to one of the more bizarre lives in recent memory. The story is well-written and without any noticeable gaps, something that easily could have fallen through the cracks in a book with such large ambitions. Ralston keeps it all under his thumb, however, and punishes the reader repeatedly with his brand of gross-out horror. While the book wasn't nearly as brutal as I expected it to be, it's got its moments to be sure, and it's a thrill ride that's definitely worth taking.
Who this book is for: Extreme horror literature lovers, Psychosexual horror fans, Tom Bodett
Bottom line: Woom is a thrill to read, disgusting and disturbing to its core but never stepping across the line into bad taste. Oh who am I kidding, this book is full of bad taste, that's why you're here! If you're looking for a book with lots of scenes that will make your insides squirm and you don't mind imagining yourself in some truly terrible predicaments, give Woom a read.