Woom takes place in the aptly named Lonely Motel. Angel has returned to the motel, to a particular room, room 6. It was the site of a traumatic experience for him. He calls for an escort to accompany him, one of a very particular body type. He proceeds to tell her some stories all related to the room, and so begins an anthology of tales all linked together with a common theme.
Some of the tales of note that are not spoilery: Jenny and Johnny get into heroin trouble with a dealer. They have to act as drug mules and that means putting a lot of baggies inside their bodies; Mary uses the room to give herself a late abortion following her rape and abandonment; A man is born again following a claustrophobic experience.
Through the stories we learn about the pain that both Angel and Shyla have experienced over their lives. I liked the diversity of the characters. It wasn’t a case of generic pretty white people. Despite the events of the story the author gives us a genuine and, in many ways, touching connection between the two.
Shyla, the escort, is just as interesting as Angel. She listens to his tales and contributes to the conversation. Shyla has a voice and value. She even contributes a story of her own. It was nice to not feel like she was just a foil for him to tell the stories. It is a bit bizarre considering some of the things that Angel and Shyla are doing while they are having story time.
The setting of the Lonely Motel is perfectly grim. It’s seedy and failing, a place for drug users and prostitutes. Any former glory it had is fading away like the wallpaper. It’s a place for despair and for the despairing to seek short-lived escape.
The common theme around the clever title is the womb. The stories are about sexuality, body trauma, and birth. There is a great deal of sadness. To Angel, the room becomes the woom. The culmination of all these stories creates the context and back story for the final events of the book that wrap it all up.
All the stories are really messed up, violent, and grim. There is plenty of disturbing gore and body horror. When the well woven threads of the tales all come together it’s with a punch to the gut. The finale is absolutely brilliant, and I don’t say that lightly. This is a story that will stick with you.
Reviewed by Andrew Tadman. @thebooksofblood.