Well, another WTF Friday is upon us, which means we once again turn the Ruins over to my dark half. As regular visitors will know, Foster Medina has a passion for messed up literary diversions - books that are bizarre, twisted, grotesque, and kinky - and he's only too happy to splatter them across the page.
The Room for review, I thought I knew what I was in for, but those expectations barely scratched the surface.
This has an odd sort of feel to it, more like a quirky cult drama than a bondage-themed erotic novel. David is a mysterious gentleman, unfailingly polite, friendly, and charitable . . . yet someone you most certainly do not want to cross. He is also powerful, confident, and self-assured. I'm not sure if Copper was deliberately trying to play against some of the darker stereotypes of mainstream fiction, but if this was a prime time drama, you'd almost expect him to be revealed as a serial killer. He's not - don't worry, this is not that kind of story - but there's a heavy atmosphere of mystery and secrecy that's often unsettling.
The structure of the novel was a bit jarring a first, but once you settle in and understand how it's being told, it flows quite nicely. The primary plot thread involves the slow seduction and mastery of Max, a policeman stranded by the snowstorm, but there other men (and other relationships) woven into the story as we go along. These side-sessions, so to speak, do as much to build upon the mystery as they do to reveal anything about David. It soon becomes apparent that he is a man with a wide influence, and one who is just as adept at casually dominating in public as erotically dominating in the well-equipped basement dungeon.
This is what I would call erotica for the mind, a story that plays with thoughts and emotions, but which is half over before there's any actual sex. There is a lot of sensuality before that point, all wrapped up in a heavy power-exchange, but it's not the kind of whips-and-chains domination you might expect. Again, a lot of what David does it all in the head, testing his subjects' senses to see what they are willing to endure in his name. For instance, there is a prolonged scene that involves nothing more than extremes of temperature, but it is powerfully done. The Room itself is far more than just a dungeon playroom, it is also something akin to an interrogation room or a cell, albeit one where cruelty and compassion are intimately intertwined. Again, it plays against expectations, making you question your assumptions about these encounters, but its influence creates some genuine romance and long-lasting friendships.
Make no mistake, this is an erotic novel involving heavy-duty scenes of bondage-and-domination between men. However, it is so well-written, so well-plotted, and so carefully narrated, that you don't need to be aroused by it to appreciate it. As a story, a character study, and a drama, The Room is surprisingly engaging.
Published February 29th 2016 by Smashwords Edition