Tuesday 10 May 2022

Dungeons & Dragons, Dungeon Academy: No Humans Allowed! (Book 1)

Dungeons & Dragons, Dungeon Academy: No Humans Allowed! (Book 1) by Madeleine Roux, illustrated by Tim Probert (HarperCollins) PB RRP $14.99

ISBN 9780008530792

Reviewed by Kylie Buckley

Zellidora Stormclash (Zelli) is an outsider who champions the small, timid, and harmless. She knows that she doesn’t belong in the Dungeon Academy where monsters and creatures are trained to be fierce, kindness is forbidden, and humans are the enemy. Zelli is aware that she is adopted and further aware that she is human. Zelli’s two adoptive mothers are both minotaurs, one of them an intimidating professor at the Academy, so no one dares to question Zelli being raised as a dungeon dweller or her thin disguise of horns and a tail.

Zelli’s world changes when she studies a book for her ‘History of Horrible Humans’ assignment. She learns about the great human adventurer Allidora Steelstrike, who bears an outstanding physical resemblance to herself! Knowing this prominent figure is likely to be her real mother, Zelli decides to secretly leave the Dungeon Academy in search of answers. Despite not knowing her real motive for escaping, she is joined on her dangerous quest by a trio of lovable oddballs who also have little sense of belonging in the Dungeon Academy – Hugo the owlbear, Snabla the kobold, and Bauble the mimic.

The Dungeon Academy has risen from the Dungeons & Dragons game franchise, and No Humans Allowed! is the first book in this middle-grade fantasy adventure series. It includes themes of belonging, diversity and friendship and is recommended for an audience aged 9 years and older. The novel includes plenty of tri-colour illustrations throughout, created by the extremely talented author-illustrator Tim Probert (Lightfall series), that will assist the reader to visualise the weird and wonderful creatures in the narrative. Books two and three in the Dungeon Academy series are due to be released in 2023 and 2024 respectively.

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