Thursday 4 August 2016

REVIEW: Duncan Ralston - Woom: An extreme horror

Genre: Extreme Horror
Publisher: Matt Shaw Publications
Publication Date: 6th August 2016
Pages: 90


This review came about in a slightly different fashion. Woom is a book of extreme horror. Extreme is not a genre that Nev likes to read. Duncan knew this and knew there was no hope of Nev ever reviewing it. But then along came Alex, who read it, and threw his review over to be posted on Confessions. So, lucky for Duncan, here is the fair and honest review of Woom: An Extreme Horror. This book is published by Matt Shaw Publications.

Let me begin this review with a warning. Not a gentle brush off or nudge like you might get from an older cousin about to tell a dirty joke in front of Grandma. This is a sucker punch to the kidneys in a darkened back alley type warning. This is a venomous red flag on fire next to the fuse of an atomic bomb warning. Do not put your playing piece on the board to approach GO if you are the least bit faint of heart or weak stomached. This book is not screwing around. Hence the warning labels written in bold letters right there on the cover. IT’S ON THE COVER!

That being said…

If you have continued reading to this point, you might feel brave enough to enter into the warped and twisted world that is WOOM. Just don’t be the tough guy at a high school party. Don’t puff out your chest, down that plastic cup of beer and shout, “I can take it!” It’s going to be a rougher ride than you might think. This book’s does not only cross boundaries, it annihilates them.

In the hands of nearly any author than Duncan Ralston, the dangerous territory WOOM resides in could easily sour into distasteful garbage. Fortunately, Ralston is gifted with talents that most of his contemporaries do not possess. His descriptive abilities put the reader in horrendous situations that the bravest of us would never dare approach in fiction let alone real life. At the same time, the humanity of his character’s blossoms on the vine creating a near impossible sense of powerful emotions making it real and beautiful alongside their grim situations.

Short but immensely compelling, I read WOOM in two sittings. I might have finished in one save for the fact that my head required a break to breathe for a few hours. The more time I spent in WOOM’s oppressive motel room, the closer the walls of the real world seemed to draw in on me. Still, I couldn’t get those characters out of my head. In the most finite exchange of a conversation, or a shared moment of human recognition showing more understanding and compassion in a few words than a full chapter’s worth of text by any other writer could demonstrate.

Stories that fall under the category of “body horror” are not for everyone. There are slasher stories and underground monster tales whose only previous exposure could be found hidden away in the cobwebbed, shadowy back rows of local book stores. With our modern technological advances that have inspired a new wave of independent publishing, these formerly forbidden sub-genres are exploding in popularity on the WWWs. Some people are always looking to explore the fringes, to find the edge and peer over the side and see what the rest of the herd chooses rather than not to admit it exists.

WOOM is a wonderful conundrum. While the stories inside its walls are deeply disturbing, they are also wonderfully human. They resound with a core hurt that we all feel deep inside in some way. The ways we describe that ache, and how we fill it to make us complete again are as varied and as far apart as stars in a desert sky.

Most of what I read is horror, so I am not easily frightened or shocked. After I finish a book I will typically sit for a few minutes to reflect on the story to find if and how it has affected me. It doesn’t often take me longer than a day to dive into a new book. Duncan Ralston has achieved something disturbingly rare with WOOM. Three days after finishing the final word I still couldn’t bring myself to even crack open the cover of something new. Not because I didn’t enjoy WOOM, but due to the power and strength living inside the writing.

If you prefer your fiction to not only provide teasing glimpses over that previously mentioned edge, but desire to be taken well beyond what you are comfortable with, WOOM is a formidable tour guide. Be sure you are very careful on your journey. You will return altered in ways you may not have bargained for.

General rating:


Reviewed by Alex Kimmell.

If you would like to help support Confessions of a Reviewer, then please consider using the links below to buy Woom or any other books from Duncan. This not only supports me but also lets me know how many people actually like to buy books after reading my reviews.


Book Synopsis:

The Lonely Motel holds many dark secrets… and Room 6 just might hold the worst of them all.

Angel knows a lot about pain. His mother died in this room. He's researched its history. He's come back today to end it, no matter the cost, once and for all.

Prostitute Shyla believes the stories Angel tells her can't be true. Secrets so vile, you won't want to let them inside you.

But the Lonely Motel doesn't forget. It doesn't forgive. And it always claims its victim.


Duncan Ralston was born in Toronto, and spent his teens in a small town. As a "grown-up," Duncan lives with his girlfriend and their dog in Toronto, where he writes about the things that frighten and disturb him. In addition to his twisted short stories found in GRISTLE & BONE, THE ANIMAL, and the charity anthology THE BLACK ROOM MANUSCRIPTS, his debut novel SALVAGE is available now.

"Mr. Ralston writes horror fiction that is unflinching and pulls no punches." - Kit Power.

"Duncan Ralston is writing honest stories about real people, pitched headlong into extraordinary situations. And that is what makes them so horrifying." - Ken Preston, Dirge Magazine

And for more about Duncan, visit his site or find him on social media:

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