cover image CRYPTID HUNTER


Roland Smith, . . Hyperion, $15.99 (348pp) ISBN 978-0-7868-5161-4

Readers expecting Jurassic Park– style adventures may be frustrated by the small role exotic creatures play in Smith's (Zach's Lie ) farfetched story. As the novel opens, 13-year-old twins Grace and Marty meet the uncle they never knew when their parents go down in a plane crash. Travis Wolfe, their uncle, is a reclusive "cryptozoologist" who lives on the private island Cryptos and researches animals "whose existence has not yet been proven scientifically." Wolfe's archenemy, Noah Blackwood, a conservationist well-known for his animal theme parks (called "Noah's Ark") and television appearances, is secretly a ruthless collector of rare species, which he then "harvests." Wolfe and Blackwood clash when an "alleged dinosaur egg" enters the picture; matters worsen when Grace and Marty are accidentally airdropped into the Congo, and Blackwood turns out to be hunting not just the egg but Grace herself. Logic takes a back seat when a convoluted family tree begins to emerge (though the author plants a clue at the start, when he says of the twins, "but you wouldn't know it if you saw them together")—it turns out Grace is not only Wolfe's daughter but Blackwood's granddaughter (Wolfe married Blackwood's daughter), while Marty is indeed Wolfe's nephew. An abrupt action sequence on the last few pages leaves many questions unanswered and plot lines dangling. This unsatisfying journey is less about cryptids than it is about soap opera–esque family intrigue. Ages 10-up. (Feb.)