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‘Cryptofauna is a game. The players are called Operators– Each Operator has a rival– Operators select a disciple– Every disciple is given three tasks to complete.’
Where to start? This book has me fangirling for the first time in my life. I’ve always preferred somewhat bizarre stories so this one immediately stole my heart, with themes of survival, good vs evil (the duality of human nature), and life contrasting with death.
At St Militrude’s Home for the Insane and Elderly, a Janitor lurks, about to embark on an incredible adventure he doesn’t expect. Cryptofauna, a game of life and wits, is played when an Operator selects their new disciple, arming them with an asset and encouraging them through various tasks, to assemble their own team, otherwise known as their ‘combination.’
WARNING: once you start this book, you may find it hard to put it down.
Canning’s style is engaging and witty, with a varied vocabulary. He allows tension to gradually build until it eventually explodes toward the end of the story. There’s a feeling of being ‘on the edge of your seat,’ at least, there was for me.
Let’s start with the main protagonist, Jim. From a hard-working Janitor to a hero in his own right, Jim is a character I found it easy to root for. As the story progresses, he learns what he needs to in order to improve himself, shaking off the pain and torment he felt at the start of his phenomenal journey.
Jim’s rival, Boyd is a real piece of work. I hated him immediately: his vile, deceptive, and murderous ways left no redeeming qualities with which I could identify.
Despite there being multiple other members of Jim’s team, the last character I’d like to focus on is Jim’s Operator, Oz (Ozymandius.) The only fictional being I’m able to compare him to is Ryuk from the anime series, Deathnote.
Oz is mysterious, with a dark sense of humor and a major lack of personal boundaries. Add in his superhuman abilities and he’s practically a demigod, always leading Jim in the right direction, with a sly comment and terrific wit.
This was one hell of a story. Mystical Jinn (magical beings from ancient times), underground leprous monks, man vs nature to the extreme, daring fights. There was certainly a lot that appealed to me, even a love interest in the form of Zoe, the only female monk
I was always kept guessing, a quality I constantly seek out in fiction. If you’re looking for an adventure that drives deep into mankind’s battle with his own psyche, and with nature, then I’d highly recommend Cryptofauna.
I’ll leave you with one hard-hitting quote:
‘The best way to show a man the value of something is to take it away from him.’
So very true.
Would I recommend this book? Hell yes!
My Rating? 5 stars.