cover image The Dungeoneers

The Dungeoneers

John David Anderson. HarperCollins/Walden Pond, $16.99 (448p) ISBN 978-0-06-233814-3

In a delightful deconstruction of role-playing clichés, Anderson (Minion) gives D&D-style dungeon-delving the Harry Potter approach, creating a school where promising young heroes are taught the finer tricks of the traditional fantasy smash and grab. As an apprentice rogue with Thwodin’s Legion, Colm Candorly learns how to disarm traps, open locks, and survive in a hostile world, while befriending the rest of his training party: a stuttering mage, a nervous druid, and a female would-be barbarian. When the time comes to test their skills in an actual dungeon crawl, they’re pushed to their limits, even as the Legion is rocked by a betrayal. Anderson’s approach is both serious and tongue-in-cheek, balancing humor with life-and-death situations, such as when Colm’s class is regaled with the horrible fates of unfortunate dungeoneers: “Impaled, drowned, burned, impaled, cursed, exploded, slashed, imploded, frozen, poisoned, turned to stone, turned to ash, turned into a chicken,” starts the speech. It’s an exciting, engaging tale that brings new life to one of the most common manifestations of the genre. Ages 8–12. Agent: Quinlan Lee, Adams Literary. (June)