Noel Baines has no idea what he is getting himself into when he reports his sighting of a monster on the edge of his property. He becomes a laughing stock, the town joke—that is until Erin Harris, an evolutionary biologist, comes to town for an interview. After seeing the evidence (dead heifer) and getting her samples tested by the all-too-willing Russ Walker-Smith, Erin becomes convinced that the monster is the Devil Dragon (Varanus Priscus) which went extinct 12,000 years before. In her excitement, Erin ignore Russ’ cautions to wait, to return to the university and apply for a grant, and rushes into a deal with Noel to catch the predator. Noel enlists the help of his neighbours, the Robinsons, who know the area and are skilled hunters. They head off together with notions of killing the monster and gaining fame and fortune from its discovery—a discovery Erin intends to claim for herself.
Despite her lack of hands on experience Erin believes that her wealth of theoretical knowledge will be valuable in the hours to come—hours in which she will become the only scientist alive having had the change to look at the Varanus Priscus up close. But will she stay that way for long? The Varanus Priscus quickly disproves many of Erin’s theories (theories based on her knowledge of the Komodo dragon) and shows it’s much more dangerous than Erin could have possibly guessed.
Erin is going into the biggest expedition of her life completely unprepared and without the safety net of even a phone signal to call for help. She, Noel, and the Robinsons will be completely cut off. Can a city-girl handle the pressure of a hunt? Can she hold her beers and her face in face of the dangers to come?
The thrill of new knowledge paired with the almost completely alien world of evolutionary biology made this an engrossing read. While slow in places, it maintained its entertainment and pulled off something very difficult—an Australian outback horror that felt authentic.
To find out more or purchase a copy, visit Deborah Sheldon’s website: https://deborahsheldon.wordpress.com/novels/devil-dragon/