Great art and a good story can’t really anchor a book that still relies on a DM with a lot of planning.
I rarely get to review books for SideQuesting, so when I was offered Düngeonmeister: The Goblin Quest Coloring Book by authors Jef Aldrich and Jon Taylor I jumped at the chance, especially given that A) both my daughter and I are artists and love coloring books, and B) she’s REALLY into D&D right now, so something like this seems perfect for her.
It’s unfortunate then that this book feels a little hollow, from the content and story to the actual “interactive” side.
The book is laid out as such: it follows a singular story broken into chapters. Each chapter begins with a one-page synopsis of the current point in the quest, then a page relaying aspects of the quest (one might be potion roll costs, another might be which monsters you might face or events in a tavern). Finally, a series of line drawings depict the scenes from that chapter plot introduction.
And… that’s kind of it.
It feels like the idea behind the project is one in which players (readers, coloring fanatics) will follow along the plot, rolling and playing as if they’re on a campaign, adjusting the events based on those rolls until they complete it. But that campaign is short and far too confining, and we don’t feel like we’re connected in any way to the plot because of said chapter layout. For example, I was expecting to color a potion and then every one of those potions I came across in the images would affect my campaign or become a hint as to what I could use. But we only ever see ONE more potion in the book. The same goes for the lovely maps in a few of the chapters that feature areas that are never formally explained or used in the plot.
And none of this can really be enjoyed alone, which is the idea of a coloring book, I think?
There’s an idea here, and probably a very fun one, but the spread of the book is holding it back. WHile the art is gorgeous and the story is basic and lighthearted but enjoyable, it would have been far more effective to see portions of that text on each page so that we know what we should be doing. Something is there, we think, but we’re still lost in the forest and can’t seem to find out which way to go next.
Instead, we read the story (my daughter has re-read it a few times, actually) and I colored a few of the pages because they *ARE* nice to look at. But I don’t think we used the book (or even knew how to use it) efficiently because of how it’s laid out.
This review is based on a copy of the book sent to SideQuesting by the publisher.
Excerpted from THE DUNGEONMEISTER GOBLIN QUEST COLORING BOOK by JEF ALDRICH and JON TAYLOR. Copyright © 2023 by Simon & Schuster, Inc. Interior Illustrations by ZACHARY BACUS. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.