Published by Penguin Global
Back in 2005 a film was unleashed upon the world that would put Australian horror back in its rightful place among international horror purveyors. And this “little film” also unleashed upon unknowing viewers a horror villain unlike any recently seen on the screen.
The film, of course, was Wolf Creek, written and directed by Greg McLean, and the villain was the horrifying Mick Taylor, played almost too realistically by the amazing John Jarratt (previously seen in Peter Weir’s frightening and dream-like Picnic at Hanging Rock).
Now, with a sequel, Wolf Creek 2 (review here), heading to theatres everywhere (in the U.S. it opens on May 16th), McLean and co-author (and co-script writer) Aaron Sterns have written a full-length novel about the early years of Mick Taylor and how he came to be Australia’s most feared cinematic creation.
Wolf Creek: Origin, told through the eyes of Mick himself, opens with the murder of Mick’s unnamed little sister at the hands of a purported child molester in Queensland, Australia. Mick was with her and witnessed what happened but was too traumatized to be of much help to the police. And Mick’s parents, his alcoholic and abusive father (aren’t they all?) and his helpless and hopeless mother, seem to want to take their pain and anger out on little Mick. Flash forward several years and Mick has just been taken on as a jackaroo at a cattle station in Western Australia, after living for several years in an aboriginal camp, where things in Mick’s life continue their downward spiral. Bullying, accidents, and murder are all becoming almost daily events for Mick… and he is starting to enjoy them.
This book is fascinating for it gives readers the history of Mick’s tools, truck, lair, and thought pattern for the crimes which are seen in the film. I won’t give any away, but read the book closely and you will learn where Mick acquired his first “lair” – a mining camp; the blue truck, or “ute”; the rifle; and his knife. The authors have also detailed how Mick went from being a mere jackaroo to the psychotic serial killer he becomes. But they also add a touch of “humanity,” if such a word can be used to describe anything about Mick Taylor, with the introduction of the character Rose.
McLean, who originally imagined Mick Taylor, and Sterns have created a rich, layered world in Wolf Creek: Origin. Parts of the novel even read like a travelogue for rural Western Australia with its ruthless Outback. And the characters are all believable and very colorful – from Cutter, the cattle station’s shooter who has his eye on Mick from Mick’s first day there, to Kravic and Roberts, the local constabulary, to Rose, Mick’s prostitute lover, and the mysterious Others, enemies whom Mick must kill first or risk being killed by them. The reader gets to know these characters and many more in the book so when their time is up, in many cases, it comes as a painful shock. But they are existing in Mick’s world so death is an all-too-possible eventuality.
Wolf Creek: Origin is NOT for the faint of heart – the blood and entrails gush freely throughout the book. Toss in torture, bullying, murder, sadism, animal killings, child murder, bestiality, and more – all detailed in horrifically gory and brutal ways. McLean and Sterns are not shy about diving into Mick’s mind and presenting the evil and amoralism which lurk there and then dragging both out for the reader to have slapped in his or her face.
Still, if you are as big a fan of the original film as so many horror fans are, you will devour this book in one sitting. It is a fast read and exciting with the police always on Mick’s heels, trying to tie him to the murders which are occurring at an increasingly alarming rate. And Mick is always one step ahead of them as well as his workmates who suspect him of horrific deeds on the station. Also, will the Others catch up to Mick, who ARE the Others, and who wins the battle of wills between them and Mick?
There are rumors that these Wolf Creek novels will be part of an extended series. If so, Origin is an excellent introduction to the madman who gave us the infamous “head on a stick” and other horrors. So open the book and brace yourself to enter the world of Mick Taylor, discover his beginnings, and see what he is capable of. Horror fans will NOT be disappointed in this book. I will even go out on a limb and say it is one of the best serial killer novels in recent years… and this from a country that gave us such real-life killers as Ivan Milat, Katherine Knight, and Martin Bryant (Google them for some hair-raising details of their crimes).
5 out of 5