Far From the Tree Press
2013 (updated edition)
"Creature" novels usually have two faults: the hand-waving of the science and the inability of the author to keep our attention when the creature is off stage. Hawthorne's novel succeeds on the second count and certainly tries on the first.
So to give the good news first, Hawthorne can write. Some of his characters (the two-fisted lawman, the woman scientist) are tropes of this genre, but Hawthorne writes them colorfully and sure-footedly. Everyone has an interesting backstory, which helps us cheer on the heroes and slightly humanizes the villains. (One odd note here: the novel's repeated reference to champion fencers being national figures and having a professional tour is so weird I assume Hawthorne means it as a kind of running gag.)
Hawthorne knows the sea, and the ocean scenes are authentic and suspenseful. We spend time on several ships, and all of them are described in interesting detail. We feel the rocking of the waves and smell the salt air.
Finally, Hawthorne is good at plotting and pacing. The book races along, and only the drawn-out climax seems too long.
So it's eminently readable. The science needs some work.
Hawthorne's villain is an evolved species of kronosaur, close to a hundred feet long . It's common for authors using extinct creatures to postulate that evolution over millions of years has left them bigger, smarter, and in this case, with the ability of echolocation, and that all falls under the heading of speculative fiction as long as the critter is at least possible.
It bothered me to see a baleen whale echolocate. This and some other liberties with the science are things that could have been revised (e.g., if it's the wrong habitat for a colossal squid, good old Architeuthis would do) or written around.
The knonosaurs' survival to the present is incomplete: Hawthorne presents a story that puts two kronosaurs in a volcanic cone after the K-T asteroid impact, but the next 65 million years is a bit fuzzy. However, he gets credit for trying, because a lot of "survival" novelists really don't.
None of the nitpicks will bother anyone looking for a fun read, because Kronos Rising delivers on the fun: it has plenty of plot twists, roller-coaster suspense, colorful characters, and action. On that score, I got my money's worth.