Sunday, November 29, 2020

Cryptosight by Nean McKenzie

Cryptosight by Nean McKenzie
October 2019 Midnight Sun Publishing


What if you could see what is hidden?

Rafferty Kaminski is a 13-year-old who believes in facts. Not like his Cryptozoologist father, who searches for creatures not proven to exist.

When their father disappears in the Flinders Ranges, strange things start happening to Raff and his younger sister Zara. They learn that their father belongs to a secret organisation and they are suddenly being pursued by bunyip hunters.
Raff is drawn into the weird world of Cryptozoology as he and Zara follow 'sightings' of creatures around country Victoria. 

Will they find their father? And what is the ancient voice that only Raff can hear as they approach the Wombat State Forest?

This is a book about 13 year old Rafferty Kaminski and his younger sister Zara. It is a rollicking adventure, full of twists and turns…but it is also a story about something very old, something that has been hidden…something connected to Raff.

Let me start by saying, that I am a person who believes. 
I would like to believe that there may still be Tasmanian Tigers in existence.
I would like to believe that the gastric brooding frog is still living underground waiting for the right conditions to re- emerge.

Part of me would love to find out that yeti’s do exist, and that the loch ness monster is real…because I think there are plenty of things out there on the world that we don’t really see, and if we do get a glimpse, we can’t quite explain them.

So a book about a Cryptozoologist had immediate appeal to me.
Let’s start with Cryptozoology – a definition at the start of Chapter 1 says it’s the study of hidden things.
According to Wikipedia :
Cryptozoology is a pseudoscience and subculture that aims to prove the existence of entities from the folklore record, such as Bigfoot, the
chup-a-cabra, or Mokele-m-bembe. Cryptozoologists refer to these entities as cryptids, a term coined by the subculture. Because it does not follow the scientific method, cryptozoology is considered a pseudoscience by the academic world:

And for those of us that need to know what pseudoscience is, according to Wikipedia again, it is, Pseudoscience consists of statements, beliefs, or practices that are claimed to be both scientific and factual but are incompatible with the scientific method.

Now that we have that explained, let’s get onto the book.

Cryptosight, the title of the book, refers to the ability to see these hidden things.

At the start of the book we meet Raff 13, and his sister Zara 11.  They are camping with their Dad in the Flinders Ranges, their Dad, who just so happens to be a cryptozoologist.

Their Dad is not a normal Dad, and this is no normal camping trip.  Part of the reason for their trip was so that Raff and Zara could start some Cryptozoology training.  On day three of their training, their Dad takes them on a hike, to the middle of nowhere, and leaves them there. They have to find their way back to the campsite.

He leaves them with the five rules of survival, and its these rules that they fall back on more than once during the book.  

The five rules are:
Number 1: Always take a torch
Number 2: Always protect your family
Number 3: Wear clothes with lots of pockets
Number 4: Really looking for things is the only way to find them
Number 5: In case of emergency, leave back up in a safe place.

The siblings do make it safely back to their campsite, only to find that their Dad has gone, his bags are gone, all of his clothes,  everything.  Gone.
But...he did leave a note:

Dearest Raff and Zara,
I’m sorry to leave you so quickly, but time is of the essence.  A friend is coming very soon.  Please wait until he arrives.  I will be back before you know it.  Please keep going with your training.  This is very important.  I have to ask you not to ring your mother,  I can’t tell you why just now, you have to trust me.  I’ll see you in a couple of days.
Love always, Dad  (page 14-15)

This is where the adventure really starts for the siblings, where things start to get quite bizarre and at times, unbelievable, starting  when Zara realises she has left something behind on their hike, something that her Dad gave her, …he said it was very important, so now the pair have to go back and find it.  It’s here we start to learn a bit more about Raff and Zara, we learn that Raff is the more serious responsible one. He doesn’t believe in cryptology. Zara is forgetful, always losing things, but she believes everything her Dad believes in.

This important thing that Zara had to go back and find, is a rock, probably volcanic in origin, but seemingly ordinary.  What is very far from ordinary is that on this journey to find the left behind rock, a big black raven that stands in their way.   This, in itself, is not that weird or odd, the weird and odd part, is that Zara understands that the ravenn has a message for them, and that Zara can understand what the raven is saying

‘Beware of the three, beware.
One, face like the moon, looking for shine
Two, like a brolga, without the dance
Hands of three, the colour of setting sun.
Beware, beware, of the three.
Beware beware, Beware…’
Page 22

From here on it’s non stop action for the Raff and Zara.
They escape a ranger, that’s not really a ranger, but one of the Three.
Stowaway on a bus full of kids retuning home after a camp, get held in a police station and go home with virtual strangers who believe they have a river serpent on their property....could it be a real live cryptid?

But Raff and Zara do finally make it back home, only to be faced with one of the Three breaking into their house, so they make their escape, and stow away on a truck heading in the general direction of their grandfathers house,  a grandfather they haven’t seen for many many years.

All of the time getting more and more clues as to what has happened to their Dad…and also start to figure out that their Mum is not the laboratory scientist that she claims to be.

We do find out how important the 'ordinary' stone is, it’s a Sark, which helps cryptozooloigists keep track of each other, identifies someone who has seen a cryptid and when there is danger nearby.  The Sark, it the one thing that might save them, and answer some questions.

As I said at the start, this is also a story about something very old, something hidden.

Throughout the story there are paragraphs, told from a different voice, the voice of this something, passages from the point of a view of a creature. A creature that has been living underground. It has been asleep for a long time, but it has woken…it’s something that should not even exist.

Obviously I am not going to tell you what this creature is, or what other cryptids the siblings might come across in this book, where’s the fun in that.  You have to read the book to find that out…read the book and see if you just might be a believer too?

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