The Scalding Rooms
by Conrad Williams
Publisher: PS Pubishing, 2007.
Hey it's nearly christmas and everywhere the tiny children are laughing in the snow whilst listenting for sleigh bells. Good will and joy are everywhere. What better way to celebrate then than with one of the most visceral, gruesome and downright dark books you are ever likely to read.
The Scalding Rooms is a short but highly effective post apocalyptic vision of a society where life is all about survival. Our "hero" is Junko Cane, a slaughterhouse worker who is forced into nefarious dealings by his criminal boss. The rest of the time he spends scavenging trinkets from the remains of executed bodies.
Quite how the world got in this mess, quite who is executing the bodies and quite why people don't just throw themselves off the nearest cliff rather than live like this is never fully explained. In effect though it's a book about family. Junko Cane, despite everything, is compelled by a primeval urge to protect his family, no matter how strained his relationship.
The intensity of this protect and survive mentality in an ultimately selfish society keeps the books moving quickly and although only a novella, the descriptive writing really paints the picture of the setting and the characters in brain searing detail.
Conrad Williams is well known for writing dark, dark horror and there is "none more black" than this one. A true Tale From the Black Abyss. Conrad Williams is also noted for the strength and quality of his writing and this is a standout example.
Rating 5 out of 5