Review: “The Roo,” Alan Baxter

Pros: So much fun!
Rating: 5 out of 5

Alan Baxter’s novella The Roo apparently started with a Twitter joke. There was some news article about an aggressive kangaroo, followed by Twitter jokes about turning it into a story, followed by one person making a mock-up book cover, and finally Baxter agreed to write it. I’m so glad he did!

The premise is simple: In a rural town in Australia, there’s a giant, demonic kangaroo on the loose. Its eyes are fiery, it’s more than seven feet tall, and it’s ridiculously muscular. Why, it could rip a person’s arms from their sockets! (And does.) This is a great, traditional gore-fest. The premise is simple: how do the townspeople stop the roo from killing them all? As they gather in the town and find that more and more people have gone missing, they resort to escalating levels of violence to try to stop the thing.

This having started as a Twitter joke, Baxter decided to use the names of the various people who encouraged him to do this as the names of all the townspeople. If you hang out in book Twitter you may find this fairly hilarious. I recognized quite a few names, and it’s like having entertaining cameos in B horror flicks.

Content note for plenty of gore, some very mild sexual content, over-the-top violence, a little bit of racism, and talk about domestic violence. Domestic violence is actually the surprise theme of this book, and brings a bit of unexpected depth to the various character interactions. Bill Catter’s wife went missing a few days before the book starts, and everyone thinks she left him because of his abuse. In most horror stories this would be the cue for him to die early, but this book makes things more interesting than that.

I absolutely recommend reading this if you’re an old-school horror fan. This is a relatively short and delightful read.

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