CRYPTOZOOLOGY FOR BEGINNERS
Book II of the Codex Arcanum
Written by Euphemia Whitmore & Matt Harry
Illustrated by Juliane Crump
380 Pages Age 10—14
Genre: Middle Grade Book, Fantasy
Themes: Cryptids, Magic, Sorcerers (good guys), Euclideans (bad guys)
Six weeks have passed since teenage sorcerers Trish, Owen, and Perry defeated a team of ruthless anti-magic mercenaries called the Euclideans. Now, they learn that the world’s cryptids (aka magical creatures) are being targeted by their old enemies. The teens partner with tough team leader Jacinda Greyeyes and their former nemesis Bryan Ferretti on a mission to collect famous cryptids such as the jackalope, the altamaha-ha, and the chupacabra.
But when another team of sorcerers vanishes, the spellcasters must travel to Germany, Egypt, and the lost continent of Lemuria to uncover why the Euclideans have been abducting magical creatures like the unicorn and the Sphinx. The secrets they uncover threaten to divide them and reveal a truth that will permanently change the way the world sees sorcery. (from front jacket flap)
“Fergus Brown had a secret.
“It buzzed and thumped within him, like a cricket trapped inside a shoebox. It kept him awake at night, chewing at the edges of his mind. It woke him early in the morning, when everything outside was still the color of a week-old bruise. But worst of all, it forced him to lie.”
[The Book actually begins at a short section titled, Warning! The author recommends reading the first book in the series, Sorcery for Beginners, if you have not yet done so. He then warns, (I’m paraphrasing) magic resides inside the pages, along with magical cryptids needing protection. If you are ready for the responsibility, without placing any blame on the Codex Arcanum—should something go wrong—then become registered with the Council Arcanum by taking the included oath. Once sworn, you may turn the page and begin your study of Cryptozoology for Beginners.]
Why I like Cryptozoology for Beginners
Fergus Brown hears the Loch Ness Monster while on his way to an offshore oil rig to take his brother lunch. He refuses to believe the loud noise is Nessie, until the creature rises to look at him, leaving no doubt she exists. Excited, but knowing no one will believe him, Fergus posts the sighting on the Internet. A few days later, Fergus makes his second major mistake when he lures Nessie to the oil rig with a bag of stinky seafood leftovers. It works. Then the Euclideans pop out of the shadows with threatening firepower. Immediately, Nessie and Fergus become captives. This atrocity brings the spellcasters to the scene. Their mission: release both Nessie and Fergus. The Las Vegas teen spellcasters have but one question: How?
I have not read Sorcery for Beginners, though I wish I had. Still, the first thing readers will notice is how well the story stands on its own merits. There is enough backstory woven into the current story to make readers well acquainted with the teens (Trish, Own, Perry, Brian, and team leader Jacinda). Woven neatly into the story is a trip to headquarters, The Codex Arcanum, to familiarize readers with the entire team of sorcerers and the Council. The above team is charged with the capture of North American magical cryptids, before the Euclideans find the usually well-hidden animals. Headquarters is temporarily hosting a cryptid zoo to keep each creature safe. First stop, Bear River, Wyoming for the jackalope, a “Master Mimic.”
Throughout the story, the team must deal with Euclideans bent on finding the cryptids first and capturing them for research purposes. This “research” includes tormenting and hurting the animals, along with holding them in small quarters often with electrified walls.
Cryptozoology for Beginners will entrance young readers, just as it entranced me. It is a story difficult to put down and made me urgently want to find a copy of book one. With just a few grammar mistakes, the story is well-written. Since Matt had two editors charged with catching and fixing these mistakes, I blame them for missing what was easy to catch. There is a treasure trove of information written about cryptids. Author Matt Harry did a fabulous job researching and then passing on the information in a fun, story setting kids will appreciate.
My only problem was finding a stopping point in the story that I could leave, return to the information boxes, read them, and then take up where I left off. I hated the interruptions but my curiosity refused to let me miss the information. These four types of boxes are a great way of adding in needed information or definitions without completely stopping the story, as each matches story content when they appear. Readers can ignore these boxes without losing story but the boxes add such interesting information, which seems written directly to you the reader. Often, in these boxes, the author places a sarcastic sentence at the end—always good for a laugh. These unique features of Cryptozoology for Beginners add to the story and, with some suspension of disbelief, these texts-like additions can help you feel a part of the ongoing story. If nothing else, return to each one after the chapter finishes.
I hope this series is at least a trilogy (or longer). I think there are items left hanging that need tied up with at least a third book. Interestingly, Inkshares rather than traditional publishers released the first two books. This is a loss for our beloved publishers, but a star for Inkshares. Thus far, a television series has been optioned, but when and where has not been released. I think a major motion picture would be a more suitable setting, but either way, as long as Matt Harry writes each episode, with Euphemia Whitmore, of course, a television series will be fantastic.
But, do not wait for a television series. Read Cryptozoology for Beginners and, either before or after (they can stand on their own merits), the beginning story, Sorcery for Beginners. As bibliophiles, you understand the book is always better.
Illustrations Rendered in black and white.
Available at Amazon
Also Available: Sorcery for Beginners
CRYPTOZOOLOGY FOR BEGINNERS. Text Copyright © 2019 by Matt Harry. Illustrations copyright © 2019 by Juliane Crump. Published by Inkshares, Inc., San Francisco CA.
Copyright © 2020 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved
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Ugh. This sounds like a good book and I’m kicking myself for not putting in a request for it on Netgalley.
I was sent the paperback. The design and layout is unique. The research is fantastic. Now I need to read the first book in this series (and I hope there is a third). Am glad you found it here. 🙂