Wow, just wow. For a hot minute, I was thinking of just writing 50 wows for this review and leaving it at that. I don’t think I have the words to do this book justice, but I will try, if not through a meandering path, which quite honestly suits the game of Cryptofauna perfectly, anyway.
For years, I’ve had a top 5 favorite reads “of all time” list. The most recent book on that list was published in 2012, so it’s safe to say it’s pretty hard to break into that list. I added two more books a few years back, and so I had a top 7. But it’s a tight list that’s hard to break into, even more so because I read over 300 books a year. That’s a lot of books that, while I do love many in their own ways, and relegate them into favorites of their genre, they don’t break the list… until Cryptonalia (and subsequently, the first book, Cryptofauna, without which we would not have a Cryptonalia.)
I know you’re thinking, that’s all well and good, Rae, but perhaps you should get to the review. But if you read this book, I would hope you would nod along with this nonsense of a review. I’ve read books that made me laugh. Jonas Jonasson and Jenny Lawson come to mind. They are funny authors that I adore. But Cryptonalia is always on, there is constant wit, and it’s so incredibly clever that you find yourself rereading passages to join in the fun over again.
I received an advanced copy, and then I purchased the ebook and then the paperback. While I was reading the ARC, I highlighted text, made notes as I do, and in reflecting on this review, I have no idea how to parse out all these notes, of which there are many. (Which makes me glad I have it digitally so I can keep the paperback pristine).
Cryptonalia is more than just wit and laughing out loud. There are a lot of historical details in this that is so well-researched. There’s a glorious run-on sentence a quarter of the way in that I’m still thinking about. And, of course, there are the characters. They all contribute so much to the game. From the present and the past, their lives are so rich that I feel like a team member. Even Mars, the dog, contributes so much to the storyline. It’s not just the team members you grow close to either, because other players are so rich and endearing, especially Bart, one of the longest players.
Okay, wow, (again), I just realized how long this review is and if you’ve made it this far through all the swooning, kudos. I hope it’s obvious through all my bumbling that Cryptonalia (and its predecessor) are in the favorite reads list of all time. If you like quirky, then make this your next favorite.
Cryptonalia is available for purchase on Amazon for $4.99, it’s enrolled in KU.
You can read my review of book 1, Cryptofauna, here.
I’m going to leave you with some favorite quotes. I’ve tried to narrow them down, but it’s really hard because I have so many notes on this book.
“Mustaches are a gateway facial hair.”
“After serving water and well-salted french fries, he calmly informed his neighbors that they’d just consumed dihydrogen monoxide and sodium chloride. The shocked dinner guests raced to purge their bodies of the science-y chemicals…”
“Welcome one and all to a gathering of inconsequential behavior and shameless revue…”
“Hey, what’s the daily definition of Cryptofauna?” Parveen asked. “I like those.” Jim turned the page. “A farmer sees a blueberry pie cooling on the windowsill. He goes to take a bite but his wife shoos him away. She says the pie is for a bake sale in town. The farmer follows his wife to the bake sale, buys the pie, and eats it.”
“Then the needle of time caught again on the record of reality. The song that played was called Chaos.”
“Where she swung a hypnotist’s chain in the side mirror. The Asset, closer than it may have appeared…” (I died laughing with this one).
About the Book:
Jim and his friends have just gotten the hang of the game known as Cryptofauna (in which players with special abilities influence major and minor events around the globe), when something brand new gets tossed into the mix: Cryptonalia. Is it a festival? Some kind of deadly Olympics? Whatever it is, Cryptonalia only happens once every hundred years, and its astonishing grand prize has the potential to change everything, everywhere, forever.
Jim’s stiffest competition is a woman named Praxis, who carries a five-foot longsword and has some disturbingly-reasonable ideas about Cryptofauna being completely evil. Jim will soon have to decide if the game that once saved his life is actually doing much more harm than good, and what he’s going to do about it.
Either way, the party of the century is here, and you’re invited…
About the Author
PATRICK CANNING is the author of several novels, including Cryptofauna (2018), The Colonel and the Bee (2018), Hawthorn Woods (2020), and Cryptonalia (2021). He has also published several short stories. When he isn’t writing, he enjoys playing beach volleyball, following space exploration, and losing at bar trivia. Some of his favorite authors include Bill Watterson, Liane Moriarty, David Foster Wallace, Stephen King, and Kurt Vonnegut.
Patrick lives in Los Angeles with his Australian Shepherd, Hank, who some consider to be the greatest dog of all time.