Cryptozoica by Mark Ellis. Book review

Cryptozoica by Mark Ellis, Millennial Concepts, p/b, £14.99/Kindle, £1.95,

Reviewed by David Brzeski

I bought this book in September 2012 because I really wanted to read it, yet it still took me well over a year to finally get around to it. So many books. So little time. Anyway, better late than never, here is my review…

There’s no disguising what it is—pure pulp adventure, with a huge debt to Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic, ‘The Lost World’. What Mark Ellis gives us here is a modern take on a ‘Lost World’ novel, with a much better scientific basis than Doyle could ever have hoped to have achieved in his time.

I found it interesting that, in the list of influences the author gives us at the back of the book, he includes Milton Canniff. I hadn’t read much of the book before lead protagonist, Jack Kavanaugh and his friends started to remind me of Terry and the Pirates, despite the modern setting. This has a lot to do with the way Ellis captures the flavour of classic period pulp, while still embracing more modern technology.

As well as Kavanaugh, we have a mixed bunch of misfit heroes and opportunists, along with scientists and the Triads. Several of the characters fit into more than one of those categories. Add to this some truly unpleasant dinosaurs and we have a fast-paced page-turner of an adventure that, despite its 434 pages is over far too quickly.

This is not to say I have nothing but praise. I do have one major complaint. Despite the fact that the book is very well written, it falls down somewhat in the editing. It is not uncommon for typos to slip through in books these days, even those from the major publishers. However, there really are too many in this book to ignore. It really needed one more proofreading, by a fresh pair of eyes, before publication.

Having said that, it’s not bad enough for me not to recommend this book highly. Not only is it a great story, but it is profusely illustrated by Jeff Slemons. His cover is very nice, but the many superb full-page, black and white internal illustrations are worth the price of the book on their own.

Despite the gripes about errors in the text, I wholeheartedly recommend this book to any fans of Arthur Conan Doyle, H. Rider Haggard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Indiana Jones and classic pulp adventure tales.