The Cryptid Catcher


The attic was dark and dusty and stuffed with souvenirs and trinkets that didn’t fit in the rest of the house. It was like the closet of a museum where forgotten treasures languished in the dark. Clivo lifted the plastic from various sculptures and pottery, but there was nothing that required a key to be opened.

He walked along the floor that creaked with each step, beginning to wonder if he was totally on the wrong path. Then he saw what he was looking for and everything made perfect sense.

Clivo hurried to a far corner and knelt by a large chest the size of a steamer trunk. It was made of sturdy wood and covered in studded brown leather. He examined the trunk and furrowed his brow in disappointment. Instead of one lock to open the top, the trunk was covered in at least a dozen locks that opened various drawers and compartments all in different sizes.

Wedged under the chest was a weathered piece of parchment that Clivo delicately pulled out, the eloquent script barely visible in the late afternoon light filtering through the small attic window.

The Chest of Dreams Hide your items of importance here. But be warned. The key opens one lock, and one lock alone. If the wrong choice is made, liquid vials will mixand dissolve the contents in a puff of smoke. The smoke is harmless when breathed in, but it will send you into a deep sleep where dreams of your evil plundering will haunt you for ages to come. Choose wisely.

Clivo shuddered, both at the idea of losing whatever contents were inside, and also at the idea of being haunted in his dreams.

He held the key up to all the different locks, wondering which one it fit into, but all the locks appeared to be the same size. He scrubbed his fingers through his hair in frustration. How was he supposed to know which lock was the right one?

“One turn is all you get, find the difference.”

Clivo ran his hands again over the tough leather, his fingers tracing the decorated brass keyholes tarnished from age. Then he spied something else. Engraved on each lock was a symbol, barely visible in the low light.

He rummaged in a box next to him where his dad stored their camping gear and pulled out a candle. He lit the wick with a box of waterproof matches and held the flickering glow to the symbols. All the symbols appeared to be animals, probably from Borneo, including a tiger, an elephant, and rhinoceros.

There didn’t seem to be anything remarkable about the engravings until Clivo noticed one that stood out from the rest. It was on a compartment the size of a narrow drawer. This creature he didn’t recognize . . . it had the small body of a frog and the large head of a crocodile, complete with a long snout and pointed teeth.

This couldn’t have been a real animal. Not that Clivo knew every animal on earth, but he was pretty sure he would’ve heard about one that was half-frog, half-crocodile.

Compared to the other engravings, this one definitely was different. To boot, it might even be a cryptid, which further Clivo’s resolve that this was the right drawer to unlock. He took a deep inhale and inserted the key into the lock. He held his breath as the key turned and held his face away in case a plume of smoke came out and sent him into haunted dreams.

Instead, the lock clicked harmlessly and the drawer slid open….


By Lija Fisher

Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux

ISBN-13: 9780374305543

Age Range:8 – 12 Years

The Cryptid Catcher is the first book in a monstrously fun middle-grade duology by Lija Fisher about a boy who inherits a job hunting legendary creatures.

After Clivo Wren’s archaeologist father dies mysteriously, the newly orphaned thirteen-year-old finds out the truth: his dad was no archaeologist. He was actually a cryptid catcher, known for finding elusive beasts like the bloodsucking chupacabra. His goal: discover the one extraordinary cryptid whose blood grants immortality—before the knowledge falls into the wrong hands. The mission remains unfinished, and now there’s only one person who can take the renowned cryptid catcher’s place: Clivo. He may not know the first thing about monster hunting, but he’s willing to give it a try—because anything beats staying home with his salsa-crazy aunt and her neurotic cats.

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Lija Fisher was raised in the spooky mountains of Colorado where she spent her summers searching for trolls and ghouls that she was sure lurked in the shadows. The Cryptid Catcher is her first novel and is a funny adventure story about a boy’s search for legendary beasts like Bigfoot and The Loch Ness Monster. The follow-up novel, The Cryptid Keeper, comes out in August 2019 and she promises that the beasts will get even more beastly! Lija is collaborating with the International Cryptozoology Museum to re-launch their Junior Club where kids can learn all about the mysterious world of hidden animals.

Lija was the Writer in Residence with Aspen Words in 2017 where she spent a month writing in an isolated mountain cabin where she worried that snow zombies were shuffling to get her. Fortunately, she survived, and is looking forward to writing more books about mystical beings, mysterious worlds, and magical adventures!