Review: Dungeon Critters GN
I knew I was going to love this going into it because I absolutely adore Natalie Riess' Space Battle Lunchtime series, but I can not adequately express just how much I enjoyed this book. The combo of Riess and Sara Goetter create a truly charming and endearing world with engaging characters and great scripting that's fun for young and old readers alike. If you're looking for a great adventure fantasy comedy with LGBTQ+ representation then you really need to give this a try.
The story revolves around a group of adventures and starts off right at the climax of one of their quests. We're quickly introduced to the confident and immature Prince Chirp, the anxiety and stress ridden healer Juniper, the bad pun loving fire mage Rose, and the silent and supportive Goro.
The script and storytelling are entirely character driven, establishing each character's tone immediately and consistently while also creating interesting and fun arcs for each of them. The worldbuilding starts to really form around these character arcs as they organically lead the plot and set the characters on their path.
Along the way we get a lot of great interpersonal drama spread across our main characters, and every bit of romance is incredibly sweet and wholesome.
The script also just has its fun with the usual fantasy tropes and allows for great shortcuts in exposition to help move the plot along, using the comedic tone of the book to help with the heavy lifting.
What's also incredibly enjoyable is that virtually every core character besides our main quartet is pretty fleshed out and has their own unique voice or arc. The antagonist with the most facetime, Baron Foxworthy, is an utter delight every time he pops up.
Seriously, give me an entire book of this guy just doing his thing.
Besides all of the greatness in storytelling and everything else I've already gushed about, let me just say that the entire book is seriously just worth it for all of the facial expressions. Goetter's ability to really communicate emotion and tone through expressions is a true gift that we get to enjoy.
Dungeon Critters' queer representation and the non-conforming handling of fantasy roles (Prince Chirp is the daughter of the king and will eventually become a king) take a refreshingly casual approach that is very welcoming. It all sets a strong foundation in this character rich world that the creators have developed that truly feels heartfelt and genuine, emotions that are sadly missing in so much main stream fantasy storytelling. This type of inclusion is incredibly valuable, and I just wish that this book can be stocked in as many classrooms and libraries as possible.
On top of all of that good stuff, the collection is an incredibly affordable $14.99 for 256 pages, so it's a bit of a steal for such a dense chunk of fun. I would highly recommend this to fans of Bone, Nimona, Adventure Time, Adventure Zone, or just any fan of fantasy comedy material.
Also, delivery crabs needs to be a recurring thing in all fantasy moving forward.