Book Review: Cryptofauna by Patrick Canning

Could be his job as a janitor at an insane asylum, could be the meaninglessness of existence, could be the unwanted cilantro on his tacos. Whatever the reason, Jim has elected to commit suicide. But before he can do the deed, a mysterious resident at work equips him with a dog and a bag of ash, and throws him into a secret game known as Cryptofauna. Cryptofauna is played by Operators, persons of special abilities who battle one another to influence important events around the world. To become an Operator, Jim must survive being stranded in the Pacific Ocean, pass a bizarre examination by leprous French monks, and pluck the existential splinter from his troubled soul. If there’s time, he must also stop a rival player from ending all life on the planet. Underwater Norwegian lairs, obsession with a decent pair of socks, and shapeshifting animals obsessed with AM radio all make up the strange world of Cryptofauna, which might help Jim discover a reason to live, assuming he doesn’t die in the process.



I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Every so often, you come across a book that leaves you wondering if you should be looking into psychedelic drugs, because you realize that your reality is rather limited.

This is definitely one of those books. I spent half of this confused and disoriented (in a good way!) and the other half just amazed at how out there it was and how the author pulled it together. I kept thinking through this book that there was no way it was all going to make sense and come together, and yet, it worked so well. It’s still a bit out there for my general tastes, but it was still one of the most unique books I’ve ever read.

The Good Points of Cryptofauna:

The whole concept of Cryptofauna and the world it exists in is absolutely brilliant. It starts out a bit confusing and you’re not given a lot of information for quite a while, but it’s so cool once it’s all explained.

I really liked the characters throughout the story. Though some are rather strange, they’re all unique and interesting, and it’s fascinating to follow them through the game and as they get faced with different situations. The main character, Jim, and what he does over the course of his journey is particularly interesting.

I liked the pacing throughout this book. It does go a little crazy with descriptions at times, and can be dense, but it moves along well, and it doesn’t spend so long on anything that you get bored of it.

The Downsides of Cryptofauna:

While the writing is good, I felt like it took so long to get to the point of a scene. So many parts could have been explained more succinctly and it wouldn’t have taken anything away from the book.

As well – and this is totally me being fussy – some of the chapters were way too long. My kindle saying that it’s going to take me over 30 minutes to read a chapter is just off putting. I wish the longer chapters were broken up a bit more.

All in all, I’m still not 100% sure what to make of this book, but it was one of the strangest, most intriguing things I’ve ever read. I’ve seen some other comparisons to Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and can totally see where that comes from. If you enjoy really strange but unique stories, new takes on challenges and games, and interesting characters, you should definitely check out Cryptofauna!

Find Cryptofauna on Amazon Canada


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