Book Review: “Dungeoneer Adventures: Lost In The Mushroom Maze” by Ben Costa and James Parks

Cover of Lost in the Mushroom Maze by Ben Costa & James Parks (Dungeoneer, Adventures, Bk. 1)
Cover of Lost in the Mushroom Maze by Ben Costa & James Parks (Dungeoneer, Adventures, Bk. 1).
I’m back with another book review, and this time I’m reviewing “Dungeoneer Adventures: Lost In The Mushroom Maze” by Ben Costa and James Parks! It’s been a little while since I reviewed a kidlit book, so I’m glad to pick up another one to read and review! Here’s a quick summary so we know what it’s about: “Coop Cooperson lives in the Land of Eem, a fantastical realm where many different species live together and there is always more magic to be discovered by those up to the task. The Dungeoneer Academy trains future explorers with classes like Dungeons and Mazes, Creatures and Critters, and Swords and Sorcery. Coop believes in the academy’s mission and the Dungeoneer’s Code, but being the only human student can make it difficult to fit in—sometimes he wonders if he really belongs. Lucky for Coop, his best friend Oggie the bugbear has his back, as do the two other members of their exploring team, Daz the boggart and Mindy the imp. They have to rely on each other more than ever as the test for their Junior Dungeoneer Badges looms closer. If Coop and his friends fail to run the final gauntlet in the fungal jungle, they will have to leave the academy. As future dungeoneers, they know to expect the unexpected, but nothing could prepare them for the adventure in store.”

Worldbuilding Development: 5 out of 5 stars

I enjoyed reading the worldbuilding involving the Dungeoneer Academy and the fungal jungle that Coop and his friends explore. The idea of sentient mushroom and crystal people was well-executed! I also enjoy that there is an established Dungeoneer’s code – and with every advancement Coop and his friends make, they each follow every step of the code in the process. However, it’s not just used as a paint-by-numbers strategy for character development. Instead, it actually ties very well to them working through their personal issues and internal conflicts. Another thing that impressed me was the backstory of the Dungeoneer Academy. There’s a good reason Coop is the only human student. However, I won’t spoil why here since it leads to some major plot spoilers later on. It does help shape Coop’s main problems in this book and

Character Development: 5 out of 5 stars

I loved reading all the main characters. Coop, the character whose point of view we see the story through, was my favourite. Though he had a loving, supportive family, unlike his friends, he still had his own issues. He struggled to fit in as the only human at the academy, dealt with bullies and a fear of spiders, and his self-esteem took a nosedive partially because of those ongoing issues. It’s only after he grows in confidence in his dungeon navigating skills and faces his fears that he learns to believe in himself and grow his leadership skills. Coop has most of the character development as the main character. However, the rest of his friends aren’t neglected. Ozzie has to deal with strict expectations from his parents, Dazmia has her own issues with negligent parents and self-esteem, and Mindy has a lot of pressure to succeed at her time in the Academy. Each of them also have their own unique developments, even if it’s not as much as Coop.

Plot Development: 5 out of 5 stars

The book does a great job of balancing the internal and external conflicts. Internal conflicts include Coop’s lack of self-esteem and self-confidence, Ozzie dealing with his father’s expectations, Dazmia dealing with her own self-esteem and loneliness, and Mindy struggling with this high expectation of success after all of her hard work so far. External ones include the entire party navigating life at the academy and getting through the fungal jungle later on, while discovering the reasons why Coop is the only human Academy student and more about the Academy’s history. Though the book ends on a happy note, there are a few plot lines that give it potential for a sequel. Some of those plotlines include exploring more about Dorian Ryder and the Exiles, what the main party will do now that they’re Junior Dungeoneers, and the possibility of other new places for them to explore. I also want to add here that there is an actual sequel to this book already published. I hope it follows up on the conflict between Coop and his friends versus Dorian and the Exiles.

Overall, I’m rating this book 5 out of 5 stars!

This was an amazing book, and I highly recommend it to readers who enjoy books about fantasy adventure parties, exploring dungeons, and ensemble casts.
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