Matt Harry's Cryptozoology for Beginners was published by Inkshares in November 2019.

About Matt Harry:

Matt Harry received an MFA in Film Production from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, and has worked as a filmmaker, editor, screenwriter, college professor, movie critic, and story consultant. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two sons.

About Cryptozoology for Beginners:

The much-anticipated sequel to Sorcery For Beginners is here!

Six weeks have passed since teenage sorcerers Trish, Owen, and Perry defeated a team of ruthless anti-magic mercenaries called the Euclideans. When they learn that the world’s cryptids (aka magical creatures) are disappearing, they’re partnered with brusque team leader Jacinda Greyeyes and their former nemesis Bryan Ferretti in a mission to travel all over North America, collecting famous cryptids like the jackalope, the chupacabra, and the altamaha-ha.

But after another team of teenage sorcerers suddenly vanishes, the spellcasters set out for Germany, Egypt, and the Seychelles to uncover why the Euclideans have been abducting and experimenting on magical creatures like the unicorn and the Sphinx. The secrets they uncover threaten to divide them and reveal a truth that will permanently upend the way the world sees sorcery.

REVIEW: CRYPTOZOOLOGY FOR BEGINNERS BY MATT HARRY

Matt Harry's Cryptozoology for Beginners is the second novel in the Codex Arcanum series of middle-grade fantasy novels. This novel is charming escapism and great fun for readers of all ages who love good stories and magical creatures. The author has clearly aspired to make this novel as entertaining as possible and succeeds in it, because everything about the story feels fresh and compelling.

This novel was my first introduction to Matt Harry's fiction. Although there's a statement at the beginning of this novel that one should read Sorcery for Beginners first, I haven't been able to do so yet. However, I'll definitely read the first novel soon, because I enjoyed this novel and was captivated by the happenings and found the characters interesting.

Cryptozoology for Beginners has been created and written for readers who love mythological creatures, intriguing characters and good old-fashioned storytelling. If you're into reading fast-paced stories and love atmospheric adventure stories, you'll find this novel amazing, because it has everything you could ever hope to find in this kind of a novel.

This novel tells of teenage sorcerers - Trish, Owen and Perry - who have thwarted the attempts of the ruthless anti-magic mercenaries called Euclideans. Now, they find out that the cryptids of the world are being targeted by their old enemies and their existence is severely threatened. They partner with Jacinda Greyeyes and a former nemesis Bryan Ferretti to save the cryptids from extinction. The also try to uncover why the Euclidians have been abducting the magical creatures.

The story begins with a Scottish teenager, Fergus, seeing Nessie (the Loch Ness monster) for the first time and trying to get evidence of the creature's existence. Soon, Fergus witnesses how the Euclideans appear and capture Nessie before his eyes... A bit later, the young sorcerers - Trish, Owen and Perry - meet Euphemia Whitmore who tells them that she needs their help in rescuing Nessie from the hands of the Euclideans. Soon, they set out to do their task and try to save the cryptid... This marks the beginning of a wondrous and wonderful fantasy story that takes readers on a magical journey.

One of the strengths of this novel is its diverse cast of characters. It's great that the author has come up with characters that are different from each other and struggle with their own feelings and problems in a realistic way. The characters are surprisingly humane and make mistakes like regular people do.

Here are a few words about some of the characters:

- Owen and Perry are are a couple. They're both delightfully nerdy.

- Trish is a girl who has a big and personal secret: she is a lesbian. She hasn't told anybody about her sexuality.

- Jacinda is a tough sixteen-year-old girl who is Level Three sorcerer from Flying Dust First Nations, which belong to the Cree Nation.

- Bryan, who is the former nemesis of the young sorcerers, has a lot to prove to the others. He has abandoned his old life and now works with the sorcerers.

- Euphemia Whitmore is the Head Recruiter for the Council Arcanum. She is a wise, experienced and powerful sorcerer.

I find the author's way of writing about Trish and her life realistic and engaging. Trish is just like a normal teenager, who has her own problems and has to deal with many changes. She knows that she is different from others and has to cope with the knowledge.

LGBT themes are handled well in this novel. The author writes about coming out in an excellent and touching way, because he tells of how difficult it is for Trish to tell others that she likes girls. Trish is scared of coming out and telling others about herself. She fears that her fellow sorcerers won't accept her sexuality, because she has already lost her best friend by trying to kiss her.

The author also writes well about how the teenagers keep their magical abilities hidden from their parents. He also fluently describes how the teenagers try to protect and save the cryptids, because keeping them safe isn't as easy as it sounds. Because the Euclideans are trying to capture the cryptids and will fight against anybody who tries to save the creatures, the sorcerers have to try to outwit their enemies and do their best to survive.

I'm not going to reveal how many cryptids are mentioned in this novel but, to name a few, this novel features such creatures as Nessie, Bigfoot, Chupacabra, Sphinx and Jackalope. Each of the magical creatures mentioned in the story are splendidly depicted by the author and the black and white illustrations by Juliane Crump are beautiful (I liked the illustrations a lot, because they were well made and fit the story perfectly). I have to mention that I was especially impressed by how the author wrote about Nessie and Jackalope, because both of them were quite endearing creatures in their own ways.

The sidebars are wonderfully informative and they are divided into four categories: The Codex Arcanum, Cryptid Corner, Enchanting Details and Beware the Euclideans. The facts, stats and profiles about the various cryptids that can be found throughout the book are fascinating (readers who are interested in fantastical and magical beings will find a lot to enjoy in this novel), and so are the other details. Some of the facts are surprisingly humorous and funny.

Matt Harry's Cryptozoology for Beginners is marvellous fun for readers of all ages, because it's an irresistibly entertaining blend of adventure, magic, action, fun facts, humour and magical creatures. If you enjoy reading fast-paced and thrilling stories, this novel will charm you with its swiftly moving story.

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