Cryptozoology for Beginners by Matt Harry.
Inkshares. 373 pp. p/b. £11.04
Reviewed by Steve Dean
Cryptozoology for Beginners by Euphemia Whitmore, Book II of the Codex Arcanum, to give the book its full title. Ms Whitmore is a fictional character and the writer of the aforementioned codex. This a pointless affectation by the author, and one I personally would remove.
I haven’t read part one. The author does, of course, recommend you read the story from the beginning, but I had no trouble following along. So, in this world all the legendary creatures are real. The Loch Ness monster, bigfoot, unicorns and various other mythical beings from around the world. These creatures are all being hunted by the shadowy Euclideans, who want to experiment on the beasts for their own nefarious purposes. Standing against them are three youngsters; Trish, Owen and Perry, who learned how to do sorcery in the first book. Under the somewhat patchy care of their team leader, Jacinta Greyeyes, they begin to scour the world to capture these creatures themselves before the evil corporation can get their hands on them.
Scattered throughout the book are panels that explain the meaning of some of the less familiar words, and some full page illustrations giving descriptions and some background to the various creatures.
It’s fairly obvious from all this that the author hasn’t just jumped on the Harry Potter bandwagon but is driving it. Strange creatures, child wizards, shadowy threats and a multi-volume plot, it’s all there. You could argue that there aren’t any original plots left, and that writers need to find new angles, and I would have to at least partially agree.
All that aside, and considering the book as a separate entity, I think it works very well. Many of the books I’ve read that were aimed at children, (figuratively, not physically!) were terrible, because kids won’t even notice they’re bad, right? Wrong. This is one of the rare children’s books that would actually be suitable for a child. The author has been able to use words that most youngsters won’t know simply by explaining what the words mean in the little panels. They do stop the flow of the story a little, but it’s a small price to pay. This book delivers entertainment and education in one small package.
This is the second book I’ve read from Inkshares, and I must say I’m impressed so far. The only thing holding this one back is the eye-watering price. Over eleven quid at the time of writing.