I will start with the positive of Dungeon Critters by Natalie Riess. First, I like Sara Goetter’s illustrations (for the most part). Sure, there is a piece here or there I was not a fan of, but overall, I liked what is presented. Second, I was digging the vibe that recalled a younger version of The Adventure Zone. And finally, I only really wanted to smack one of the characters for sheer annoyingness.
Still, something was missing for me. As I said, the illustrations are decent, but some things are not explained well in the text. There was a lot of “hanging” and either waiting for it to be explained many pages later or not at all. I felt more than once I was playing catchup and not sure what had just happened. The illustrations are simple, but not simplistic, with good colors and just enough details to make it not feel naked.
However, a controversial thought I had throughout was that I felt that it was heavy on non-heterosexual characters “just because” the author could, and not always there because it would help the story flow to the conclusion. Though the way Goro’s boyfriend is introduced is humorous and perfectly casual. That at his personality made him probably my favorite character, and he was not even the villain. I am afraid the villains were not up to my standards. I liked there was a either non-binary or duel binary character and several same-sex situations, but at times it just felt forced, unfortunately. With that said, I think the age it is aimed for (10 to 14, but of course younger could read as it is not so much context as concepts that might be a bit much for them) will think nothing of it.
I am assuming there will be a sequel, but not I am sure if this book was the first book or not as I said, it has a feeling of having jumped into the book in the middle of things.