I was told that Room was one of the tamer works of Joe Knetter. Given that introduction (along with other warnings about how his work always offended someone) I was stoked to start reading, and finished in a day and a half.
Room is a collection of short stories that span the spectrum of any horror you can imagine. There are succubi, devils, demons, hell, and then just plain screwed up people to top off everything. Knetter definitely doesn’t mince words to get his point across, and given that I had been given warnings about his work, I braced myself for the worst… but I was really pleasantly surprised!
While some of the stories are downright disgusting, sometimes that’s just what a person needs in their horror stories. Never once did I feel like Knetter was using gore or vile imagery for shock value. Instead each instance (and let me tell you there are some gnarly instances) of blood and guts (or puke and pus) fits perfectly within its story.
There are eight stories contained within Room and I loved each of them for different reasons. “Room 17” and “friEND” were two of the less graphic stories in the collection, with more focus on ghosts and tragedy than gore. Then we move to “Lucky Night” where parts left me speechless and “Perish Woods” which had me looking over my shoulder while I read.
Knetter’s story placement within Room is well thought out. He starts out with the lighter works to get you going, lulling you into a false sense of security. Then amps it up with more and more tension, violence, sex, and great kills before finishing off with “Cemetery Rhodes” which brings you back down but still leaves you with that fantastic feeling of unease.
What I loved most about Knetter’s writing was how the stories were spun to make you think you had them figured out, and then just at the last second he’d throw a curve ball and everything you thought you knew quickly disappeared. Several of the stories left me shaking my head with a smile on my face simply because Knetter had succeeded in surprising me. Generally speaking, it’s easy to figure out the end game of a horror story – who the killer is, how the next kill will happen, where it will come from, and who will survive. Not in Room! It kept me on my toes the entire time I read it, and has convinced me to go out and read more of Knetter’s work.
5 out of 5