Saturday, December 3, 2011

Review: Cryptozoica by Mark Ellis

Cryptozoica by Mark Ellis should have been a New York Times bestseller. It was better than anything I saw on the New York Times bestseller list this year (or most years for that matter) and outside of Viktoriana by Wayne Reinagel there is no other book I’ve read recently that told such an epic story so well. And epic is the key word here. This is one of those books that you pick up and begin reading and within a few pages you say to yourself WOW! Cryptozoica represents how pulp style adventure novels not only should be written but how they should be presented. Superior illustrations by Jeff Slemons and designed by Melissa Martin-Ellis, this book is a visual delight, superbly packaged and quite clearly lovingly produced by all participants. Cryptozoica puts other trade paperback designers to shame. This book is an instant collector’s item just based on the excellent illustrations and design. Then, of course, there’s the actual story itself. Mark Ellis has published widely under the name James Axler and tells a riveting tale. Stylistically, he tells a story with the correct balance of descriptions and exposition unlike so many of today’s bland thriller writers who rely on minimalism and terse dialogue. The plot: a group of fortune hunters and adventurers on a forgotten island hunting the key to humanity’s lost origins. A diverse and memorable group of characters – Tombstone Jack Kavanaugh, Augustus Crowe, HonorĂ© Roxton, Aubrey Belleau, and Mouzi – all make for some lively reading. With Ellis you’ll see the story, smell it, feel it and sense it just the way old-fashioned adventure stories were meant to be. There is a superficial resemblance to Michael Crichton’s classic Jurassic Park, but that’s ok because there is a superficial resemblance between Jurassic Park and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World and At the Earth’s Core by Edgar Rice Burroughs. In other words, Cryptozoica joins the growing bookshelf of dinosaur laden adventure novels. Cryptozoica is better than a Saturday afternoon movie serial from the mid-1940s although it moves at the same break-neck pace. This the best whiz-bang science-adventure-slugfest punctuated by those tell-tale bursts of automatic gunfire that’s you’ll read for a very long time. I don’t think Mark Ellis AKA James Axler can top even himself, but I sure hope he tries. Kudos!


  1. Thanks for the glowing recommendation, Tom, much appreciated!

    I'm sharing this on Facebook.

  2. My pleasure, that's one one hell of a book!


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