“While many writers have tried to reignite old pulp adventures with mixed results, CRYPTOZOICA takes the idea and mixes in a few other things to come out with a blast of reading fun. Mark Ellis’ novel is not one that you will plow through in an afternoon — far from it, as it definitely takes its time to develop.

His idea of an island with living dinosaurs has been tackled before, from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s THE LOST WORLD to Michael Crichton’s scientific approach in JURASSIC PARK. What CRYPTOZOICA does is take some elements from both and insert characters who could have come out of the heyday of pulp adventures, in a story surrounding Charles Darwin’s hidden journal and the secrets it kept — namely, the island of Tamtung and its unusual residents.

Ellis fully details a backstory and sets all his pieces into proper order, since the book takes its time before showing the reader the first dinosaurs. But that is not to say readers will not be bored. Not a chance, with a secret society having a central role, as well as millionaire Howard Philips Flitcroft, who sunk a ton of money into the island years ago with the idea of making it an exclusive resort.

Now, Flitcroft has another idea and he needs the help of both top-name scientists and fortune hunters who have fallen on hard times. The characters Ellis uses are built from the old pulp days, be it the swaggering “Tombstone” Jack Kavanaugh, a former pilot and now adventurer-for-hire living in exile on an island; Honoroe Roxton, a scientist with Lara Croft-like looks; or Aubrey Belleau, a man of short stature whose real plan is well-hidden from his fellow cohorts.

Throw in a Triad leader, a bodyguard and a cigar-chomping adventurer, and you have yourself plenty of cogs for the wheel, but the book isn’t one giant action piece after another. Yes, at a few moments, a bit of trimming could have helped, but that’s only a minor problem, since once the action starts, the story never lets up and has some great surprises along the way.

Adding to the fun of CRYPTOZOICA is the art by Jeff Slemons, whose dinosaurs make me want to reread my copy of Jack Kirby’s DEVIL DINOSAUR. His work seems to jump off the pages. Even before the story starts, Slemons gives us character pages for most of the leads, so you can’t help but have these images ingrained in your mind as you read. I just wish he did a few more plates to scatter about, but then again, this is a book, not a comic.

Ellis, who cut his teeth writing men’s adventure series like DEATHLANDS, knows how to pace his plot, to the point when you think it’s all finished, he throws in another surprise. CRYPTOZOICA is a novel for those who really want to sink their teeth into something engrossing to the finish. For a modern take on pulp adventure, you would be hard-pressed to find one that delivers like this.”
Bruce Grossman, Bookgasm

“I love stuff like this. Island. Monsters. Lots of guns and babes and action.”
Peter Leonard, The ManEating Bookworm

“Mark Ellis is a talent of the first order. And the text itself, along with the book design, were both laid out under the auspice of artiste extraordinaire Melissa Ellis.

Get it now, people! If you have children, a spouse, a favorite aunt or uncle who love adventure tales and dinosaurs, get to to purchase an autographed copy or click this link. Thank you, Mark—the wait was worth every moment!”
Jon Guenther,

“If Clive Cussler novels are an appetizer, Mark Ellis’s Crypozoica is the main course with interesting complex characters and non-stop action on land, sea, and air. Jeff Slemons’ illustrations are wonderful and really add to the storytelling and mood. The blending of myth, religion, and science are expertly done and are woven into the story compellingly. I found it a real page turner from beginning to end.

Something should also be said about the interior layout which, for a book lover like me, was very satisfying. Art Director Melissa Martin-Ellis did a terrific job with both the choice of font and incidental art that reinforced the mood of the story. The text was easy to read and the little dinos with the page numbers a nice touch.”
William Saslow,

“Sure there’s action and some carnage, but the main draw of this book is its Sense of Wonder. In a way it’s a retro-styled throwback to the days of pulp fiction and men’s adventure magazines.

There’s a breathless, almost break-neck, quality to the narrative with some brief quiet moments of speculation and real Science. Think of the best qualities of the film versions of THE LOST WORLD, KING KONG and, yes, even the first JURASSIC PARK and you’ll get a glimpse of the fun you’ll have reading this book.”
Wayne Quackenbush, The Annex

By Mark Ellis
(5/5 stars)

A perennial hot button issue in science and religion is on the origin of life. Were humans created by God–in which case, whose God?–or by evolution or by something else entirely? In “Cryptozoica,” Mark Ellis adds fuel to the fire by offering another theory on the origin of man that involves dinosaurs and some very special goo.

Like “The Da Vinci Code,” the story also involves secret societies. In this case it’s the School of Night, an ultra-secret club of scholars that included Charles Darwin himself. In the book’s prologue, we learn that Darwin and the crew of the Beagle ran across the Tamtung islands, which were home to some very weird creatures. They didn’t really know what to call them since the word “dinosaur” hadn’t been invented yet.

Skip forward to the present. “Tombstone” Jack Kavanaugh is living on Little Tamtung along with his friend Crowe. They, along with an eccentric billionaire, tried to start a sort of Jurassic Park/dinosaur safari on Big Tamtung, but the venture was shut down after three people died. Now the School of Night is getting involved, along with some Asian gangsters who helped bankroll the original venture. This means that Jack, Crowe, and some new and old friends all have to return to Big Tamtung and unlock its secrets.

What secrets are those? You’ll just have to read to find out.

“Cryptozoica” is a taut and engaging pulp adventure. If I have one complaint, it’s that there wasn’t enough of a body count. I wanted the dinos to munch a few more people. Still, this is a fun, exciting read with some great illustrations too that should bring to mind old school adventure stories like “The Lost World” while adding a little modern science and conspiracy theory to the mix to freshen it up.

That is all.

–BJ’s Book Reviews


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One Response

  1. Have to agree…one of the best books I’ve read in years. Mark Ellis is at the top of his form!

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