- Snared: Escape to the Above by Adam Jay Epstein
Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-250-14692-2 $16.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-1-250-14689-2 $9.99
Reviewed from galleys Ad Gr. 5–7
The aptly named Wily Snare is the trapsmith of an underground dungeon, where, for as long as he can remember, he’s been tasked with creating and maintaining a series of elaborate traps and has been told that there’s no life for him in the Above. When a ragtag band of adventurers—an elf, a moss golem, a knight turned thief, and the knight’s floating disembodied arm that chooses to remain a knight—beat each of his traps, defeat the dungeon’s monsters, and explain to Wily that he’s not a [End Page 426] below-dwelling hobgoblet but a human boy, a new world opens for Wily. Wily and his adopted hobgoblet sister join the adventurers in the Above to unravel the not-so-mysterious details of his identity. It turns out he belongs to the royal family of the Panthasos kingdom, but is his father the Infernal King the progenitor he’s longed for or an enemy? The world-building detail and attention given to establishing a world of varied monsters and magics, which Wily seems impressively knowledgeable of, is immediately lost in the Above as hurried and predictable plotting makes for an unconvincing hero’s journey. Still, a charming commitment to a party of diverse skillsets throughout the story may appeal to fans of role-playing games or fantasy titles such as Gorman’s Thisby Thestoop and the Black Mountain (BCCB 4/18).