Sunday, 7 August 2016
Book review - Woom - Duncan Ralston
Woom is the latest offering from Canadian author, Duncan Ralston. Published through Matt Shaw Publications. With the signature black cover, it was obvious this book was going to be at the more extreme end of the horror spectrum.
The story itself is fairly simplistic. It is centred around a man who calls himself Angel, a man discovering a preference for women who are on the heavier side, the reason for this becomes clear later in the book. Introduce a hotel room with a bleak history and a hooker with a heart of gold named Shayla and the stall is set. Right?
This is where Ralston expertly displays his storytelling ability, by creating offset chapters; the result of a conversation between our two characters that are seemingly unimportant, and seemingly not relevant to the plot. After the disappearance into these mini stories, the focus shifts back to the unlikely rapport that blossoms between the two main characters. A few more people are introduced as the story develops, but again, they appear inconsequential to the real dynamic of the overall tale.
I fear I'm beginning to ramble, because it's difficult to sum this one up without giving away some major spoiler's so I'm going to leave that there. If you know Ralston's writing, you'll no doubt be aware that his style is smooth; his prose is defined and articulate, his dialogue is well balanced and descriptions near perfect. This is no different. For a book where a good portion of the content is relating on past events and little actually happening in real time, I think there are few writers who could have pulled this off half as well as he did without it descending into confusion or boredom. He manages to build tension throughout by mere indications and suggestions. For the majority of this book, the reader won't guess in a million years where it's headed. As the story hits it's climax and the aspects mentioned previously suddenly fuse together and become clear, the reader is treated to one final scene that will quite literally leave them with their jaws agape.
After reading Ralston's collection - Gristle and Bone, one story in particular stood out to me that hinted at the seedier abilities of his astute, horrific imagination. In Woom, it is showcased in abundance - truly. He creates some of the most unbalanced, twisted, and deeply flawed characters that you're ever likely to find. Aspects of the story are darkly sordid, twisted and downright wrong. however as an overall package, it's a totally compelling read. At times the reader will find themselves disgusted, yet strangely drawn into its foul glory.
For me, I've been wanting to read this book ever since I first heard about it's conception and it didn't disappoint. After turning the last page, I had to take a moment to compose myself and think... What the hell did I just read? That's the real beauty, Ralston is totally unapologetic about it. It's hard hitting, disturbing, and totally brutal, but in the best way possible. You may consider taking a bath afterwards, however, you may even be put off that idea.
It's not gonna be for everyone, once again, adhere to that warning on the cover, it's there for a reason. There is a whole host of wrong in this one for the unsuspecting, it can't be that bad crowd. If extreme isn't your thing, I wouldn't risk it.
For me, I was anticipating it, and I loved it.
No less than 5/5