“Meant to be” – a phrase weighed down with so many expectations… especially when you are an orphaned human who has been adopted by two female minotaurs while attending Dungeon Academy. Zellidora is forced to disguise herself so that she is not caught in the open as a gross human!!
It is in her History of Horrible Humans class that she learns about the greatest human adventurer, Allidora Steelstrike… Hmmmmm, Allidora looks the spitting image of Zelli. It’s enough of a connection to spur her to action. She wants to find out her true lineage. To shed her fake horns, her fake tail, and maybe be herself…
With the help fo the other Bad News Owlbears… Yep, a vegan owlbear, a shapeshifting mimic, and less-than-courageous kobold all reach out to Zelli and join her gang. Off they go to the see what else there is in the world, besides the prejudices of Dungeon Academy.
A laundry list of things to love about this one:
- Cute illustrations that part of me wanted to just jump into. (You ever get that feeling??)
- I’m always in for a “Monsters are people too” tale… Ummm, Sesame Street was my favorite show growing up!!
- LGBTQ+ Rep: One character uses they/them pronouns and Zelli’s adoptive parents are lesbian minotaurs.
- I read several chapters with my 8-year-old and she enjoyed it. Most importantly for the D&D fan in me, the author includes many of the D&D details, classes of characters and other key ideas. Will this turn the littles in my family into dice-rollers!?!?!!?
- One criticism: Some of the writing is uneven; I thought there were some pacing issues. Background info vs pushing plot forward…
Overall, a very fun read that belongs in middle-school libraries, bedside tables, and book shelves.
4 out of 5 stars
Thank you to NetGalley, HarperCollins Children’s Books, and the author for an advanced copy for review.