by Alan Baxter
There are certainly perks to following writers online. The Roo is a prime example of Twitter hysterics gone right. After a humorous news article gathered speed through our timelines – “Australian Town Terrorized by Muscular Kangaroo Attacking People and Eating Gardens” – author and graphic artist, Kealan Patrick Burke, mocked up an old-school horror novel cover in response to a comment made by author, Charles R. Rutledge, regarding the kind of spoofy-styled novels Zebra used to print. People loved the cover Burke revealed, and with Baxter being the Aussie in the continued joke, people said he should turn The Roo into an actual book. Fast forward a small amount of time and here we are; The Roo lives.
In his introduction, Baxter says, “I’ve shamelessly written this book to be as ocker as the outback.” There’s not only a ton of Australian slang to be found, but serious themes and issues as well from the Down Under (including domestic violence). It’s in these serious moments – however brief they feel – that Baxter shows his humanity in the midst of Kangaroo carnage. Yes, this story is ridiculous in a campy, horror kind of way. But that was also the point, so don’t overthink it; take the blood and the lessons without getting too twitchy in the process.
If you go into this book with the expectation of having yourself a gory, fun time with little thought required, then chances are you’ll have a blast with The Roo. There’s plenty of death and destruction, that’s for sure. And you’ve got to love the origin story behind the existence of this novel. In fact, having that background up front – having seen the conversations first-hand when the jokes started overflowing Twitter – really heightened my enjoyment of this novella. As Baxter says in his introduction: “This is the kind of thing that happens when horror writers and reviewers are dicking around when they should be working.” I think this kind of dicking-around needs to happen more often.
Though I’m not without my complaints – the use of full names become tiresome, and the foul language was distracting more than once – I found The Roo to be a good way to kick a lazy afternoon’s arse. So, pull up a chair, grab a beer, and enjoy some dangerous Kangaroo headlocks.