Random House, 2009
From the Publisher
In this powerhouse of suspense scientists have made a startling discovery: a fragment of a lost continent, an island with an ecosystem unlike any they’ve seen before... an ecosystem that could topple ours like a house of cards.
The time is now. The place is the Trident, a long-range research vessel hired by the reality TV show Sealife. Aboard is a cast of ambitious young scientists. With a director dying for drama, tiny Henders Island might be just what the show needs. Until the first scientist sets foot on Henders - and the ultimate test of survival begins...
For when they reach the island’s shores, scientists are utterly unprepared for what they find - creatures unlike any ever recorded in natural history. This is not a lost world frozen in time, an island of mutants, or a lab where science has gone mad: this is the Earth as it might have looked after evolving on a separate path for half a billion years.
Soon the scientists will stumble on something more shocking than anything humanity has ever encountered: because among the terrors of Henders Island, one life form defies any scientific theory - and must be saved at any cost.
"What do you make of this island, Mister Eaton?"
"Aye, it's strange," Eaton said, lowering the glass—but a glimpse of Frears falling to his knees at the edge of the crevasse made him raise it hastily to his eye. Through the spyglass he found Frears kneeling in the crack and saw him drop what appeared to be the copper funnel he was using to fill the small kegs. The funnel skittered down the rock face into the water.
A red flash appeared at the sailor's back. Red jaws seemed to lunge from the twilight and close over Frears's chest and head from each side, jerking him backwards. pg. 16
As the men scrambled from the boat, the captain asked, "Mister Grafton, what has become of Mister Frears?"
"He's been et by monsters, sor!" pg. 19
Chartered for the cable reality show SeaLife, the Trident comfortably quartered forty passengers. Now an "on camera" crew of ten who pretended to run the ship, fourteen professionals who really ran the ship, six scientists, and eight production staffers, along with a handsome bull terrier named Copepod, rounded out her manifest.
SeaLife was chronicling the Trident's yearlong around-the-world odyssey, which promised to encounter the most exotic and remote places on Earth. In its first four weekly episodes the cast of fresh young scientists and hip young crew had explored the Galapagos Islands and Easter Island, launching SeaLife to number two in the cable ratings. After the last three weeks at sea, however, enduring back-to-back storms, the show was foundering.
The ship's botanist, Nell Duckworth, glared at her reflection in the port window of the Trident's bridge, repositioning her Mets cap. Like all the other scientists chosen for the show, Nell was in her late twenties. pg. 23-24
"If you want to find an untouched ecosystem, you certainly came to the right place," Glyn conceded.
"It must be twelve hundred miles from the nearest speck of land, I reckon," Samir said. pg. 38
"Well, according to Nell, it was discovered by a British sea captain in 1791. He landed but couldn't find a way to the island's interior. There's no other record of anyone landing, and there are only three recorded sightings of it in the last 220-" pg. 39
He raised his hand to swat it and hundreds of miniatures rolled off the spider's back. A red gash melted open on his calf as, in the space of two seconds, the yellow edge of his tibia was exposed and more white disks fired into the gaping wound. pg. 67
Apart from their striped fur, they were nothing like mammals - more like six-legged tigers crossed with jumping spiders. With each kick off their back legs, they leaped fifteen yards over the sand. pg. 70