Edited by: Bruce Gehweiler
Published By: Padwolf Publishing
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
As I told you in my review of the anthology, Crypto-Critters, cryptozoology is the study of creatures that have yet to be proven to exist. Crypto-Critters II, is a second volume of stories revolving around cryptozoology. Once again, Bruce Gehweiler was tapped to edit this volume. Selected for submission in this volume of Crypto-Critters are works from C.J. Henderson, Bruce Gehweiler, James Chambers, Edmund R. Schubert, Patrick Thomas, Jeffrey Thomas, John Sunseri, Diane Raetz, Scott Thomas, and Graham Watkins.
As in the last collection of stories about creatures whose existence has yet to be proven, I found that some of the stories in Crypto-Critters II were more enjoyable for me more than others. As always, Patrick Thomas never fails to satisfy my reading tastes. Patrick has two stories in this volume – Hecatomb, part of his Department of Mystical Affairs series, and Open Mouth, Rescue Bigfoot, a story he co-wrote with Diane Raetz. I loved Hecatomb, as it related the further adventures of Agent Karver and his partner Agent Cobb that I had first touched upon in The Dead Walk Again!. I was intrigued by the idea that the agents of DMA not only dealt with supernatural beings such as zombies and demons, but actually did battle with living creatures with some decidedly strange eating habits. I was not as pleased with Open Mouth, Rescue Bigfoot, despite the clever title. Although the tongue-in-cheek humor was enjoyable, the story just wasn’t believable enough for me. Trying to picture a vampire / reporter jumping a NYC turnstile with a Bigfoot under one arm and her best friend under another just brought to mind numerous cartoons I had watched as a kid. And then they remove the Bigfoot’s hair? No way!
Snipe Hunt, by John Sunseri, was a great addition to this collection. The idea that someone could actually think up the mythical creature that every hunter has been initiated with was original enough. But the way the creature was created and the person who created it – absolutely genious! Swamp Hoppers, by James Chambers, was an enjoyable tale about a radio DJ who reports / debunks supernatural sitings having been duped into reporting something she’s experienced but cannot possibly prove exists. After reading this tale and discovering that it is a part of a series entitled The Midnight Hour, I now find myself extremely interested in reading the rest of the series. Lair of the Ice Rat, by Edmund R. Schubert, takes us to the frozen tundras of Siberia where escapees from a work camp find themselves trapped between an assassin, a Woolly Mammoth and a Sabretooth Tiger. Great idea of Schubert’s to use the fact that many of our greatest links to our ancestry have been discovered frozen in areas just like that depicted in the story.
There were some tales I could do without. Granted, the team-up of C.J. Henderson and Bruce Gehweiler has produced quite a few enjoyable tales, but did we really need THREE Blakely & Boles Adventures? That many stories from the pair begs two questions – were there not enough submissions for this novel or was Mr. Gehweiler using his editor status to push his stories? Either way, one story from the duo would have sufficed. The Heart Shaped Bestiary, though a great story, didn’t seem to fit in this collection. I loved that Scott Thomas used the actions of animals to help describe the rise and fall of love in a particular relationship, but what did this story have to do with cryptozoology?
One of my complaints with Crypto-Critters was that there were way too many typographical errors in the anthology. Unfortunately, Crypto-Critters II does not show a marked improvement in that department. If there is anything that turns me off to a story more, it would be the number of errors I find. They make you pause and say, “Huh?” That pause can often cause the reader to lose the momentum of the story, so I really wish the folks charged with editing this anthology would fix that nasty little problem before creating a third one.
That’s right, I said a third one. That’s because, despite the couple of complaints I have with the anthology, Crypto-Critters II was an enjoyable and highly imaginative read. So keep up the good work guys and gals and give me more! More tales of Bigfoot! More tales of creatures I have yet to see! More tales of Chupacabra! Give me more! In the meantime, while we wait for the authors to get their stories together, why not check out Crypto-Critters II from Padwolf Publishing and let your imagination run wild!