First published back in August of 2016, Canadian author Duncan Ralston’s ‘Woom’ is an extreme horror novella published through Matt Shaw’s now somewhat iconic ‘Black Cover’ series.

DLS Synopsis:
The Lonely Motel was situated thirty minutes from the New York-Canadian border.  Its name encapsulated the very essence of the seedy and rundown establishment.  It was where the lonely and the desperate went.  Where those that were after a slice of low cost relief would go for their sordid business.  And of course the motel was more than happy to take their custom.

The rooms all had an hourly rate – rather than just a fixed one for the night.  It was how places like that worked.  What their customers did behind the closed doors was their own business.

It made it the perfect place for what Angel needed to do.  Of course it had to be done in Room six.  That was the room where it had all started.  It was therefore fitting that it should end there too.

As soon as he was in the room he’d called for a girl.  As before, he requested that she was large.  And this time he insisted that she be exactly that.  She had to be a big girl for what he needed to do.  There was no other way around it.

When she arrived Angel was pleased to see the agency had stuck to his request.  Her name was Shyla.  She was a big girl.  Just the right build for what he had planned.

Shyla had gone straight for the bed, clearly wanting to get right down to business.  However Angel had other plans.  He had a few questions for Shyla before they began.  Of course, Shyla was more than happy to sit and talk for a while.  It was Angel’s money – so if he wanted to waste it talking– then that was just fine with her.

Although it wasn’t long before Angel felt comfortable enough with Shyla’s answers for him to move on to the next stage.  He unzipped his bag and started bringing out the various toys he’d brought along for the occasion.  Latex sex toys of increasing sizes – the largest tapering to a sadistic girth.

He’d skipped the smallest sized toys and started with the next one up – working away at Shyla as he began to tell his stories.  Stories of addiction, loss, abandonment and the desperate, near-endless struggle for redemption.  And it always came back to this one room.  All that misery.  All that loss.  All that hardship.  It always came back to room six of the Lonely Motel…

DLS Review:
Holy fucked up shit on a bike.  I’ve read some messed up stuff in my time but this one has to be in the top ten of the most disturbing and mind-destroying reads out there.  Ralston’s novella is marked as extreme horror.  And that’s exactly what it is.  Extreme motherfucking horror with the word ‘extreme’ flashing in huge whore-red neon lights.  It’s a warning that needs taking note of.  This story is not for everyone.

So what do you get with ‘Woom’?  Well, other than making you feel like you’ve just swallowed a bucketful of wet cement (which really doesn’t offer up the most enjoyable of sensations), you also get one hell of a well written, intelligently woven, and cleverly thought-provoking read.  Yes the tale’s crammed to the rafters with stuff that’s going to make you squirm like a yeast-infected bitch in your seat.  But it’s not just some one-dimensional one-trick-pony that’s constantly going for the shock factor.  What you have with ‘Woom’ is a cunningly interwoven series of gritty-as-hell stories, which together, when seen as a whole, form a complex and incredibly evocative emotional journey.

When you take your first tentative steps into ‘Woom’ you’re more than likely to feel a tad apprehensive; no doubt expecting a particularly grim read.  The backdrop - the grimy setting of room six in the rundown Lonely Motel – instantly sets the scene for a perfectly downbeat frame of mind to fester within.  You’ll be sensing the gloominess, the harshness, and the sleaze-drenched grittiness that you’re edging towards.  And trust me, the tale delivers all of this.  Oh hell does it deliver this in absolute fucking abundance.  But as you push on, gritting your teeth as you go, what you’ll start to see is something else, delicately pulling itself up out of the sickly stench that permeates the tale.

Themes of womanhood, of conception, the creation of life and ones birth into the world, start to rise out of the dank and depressive quagmire.  Ownership of one’s own faults – realising and admitting to mistakes and flaws – casts away the gloom from the bitter shadows, bringing some much needed light into the collected stories.  Addiction and the repercussions as a result of neglect rub shoulders with a powerfully emotive character arc based around one man’s fight through a life of difficulty and soul-destroying hardship.

Yeah, there’s a great deal of symbolism nestled in amongst the grime and filth of the tale.  It’s not submerged or difficult to reach.  It’s laying on the surface for all to see.

The construction of the story is one of the most interesting aspects behind it.  In essence what Ralston’s done is brought together a handful of hard-hitting and grime encrusted stories that are each interlinked and told via the character of Angel.  Of course there’s a hell of a lot more to the converging stories and the involvement of Angel and Shyla than just that.  Indeed, the way in which Ralston brings the stories together is nothing short of masterful.  This is a clever tale.  A well thought out, tightly executed and incredibly thought-provoking tale designed to knock the shit out of you.

Through ‘Woom’ Ralston is quite intentionally and quite obviously trying to provoke a response from his audience.  Yes it’s an unpleasant and unsettling read, but if you scratch away at the surface and keep pushing on through the ugliness that surrounds everything, then you’ll start seeing another element peeling away from the grime.  Thankfully there’s no wondrous enlightenment that miraculously makes everything suddenly okay with the world.  Such clichés aren’t part of Ralston’s DNA.  Nevertheless, as you push on through the stories, and begin to connect up some of the dots, then you’ll start to see something else forming.  It’s brave, it’s tenderly raw, and it’s so very human.    It’s a story that’s able to send the reader’s emotions on a vomit-inducing rollercoaster ride…until everything starts to make some sort of weirdly fucked-up sense.

In ‘Woom’ Ralston’s somehow painted a delicate portrait of humanity using blood, shit, bile and dirt as his oils and a thick-handled sledgehammer for the brush.  The end result is a brutalised vision of the very rawest of human hurt, loss and instability magnified out of all proportion.  It’s bold and bastardised and hurts to read on.  But the pain’s a necessity.  It makes it all make sense.  It’s brings it all home.  And it makes the continuation of life feel that much richer. That’s the fucked up way of human nature folks.

The novella runs for a total of 90 pages.

© DLS Reviews

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