I’m not sure when or how I learned about Perception Check by Astrid Knight but this was one of my top reads of 2022. If you’re really into D&D like we are, then you’ll want to dive into this review and the book itself.
Rating: 5 Stars
Her favorite tabletop roleplaying game is real, and her kidnapped childhood best friend is trapped in a far off land. Will she be able to save her? Let’s roll initiative!
Violet Spence wants nothing more than to have a normal life. After witnessing her childhood best friend get abducted by monsters, that’s easier said than done. At twenty-three years old, Violet cannot seem to move past that fateful night ten years ago. Her only solace is Mages of Velmyra, a tabletop roleplaying game filled with goblins, fairies, and all-powerful magicians. But of course, that’s all fantasy.
Or, so she thought. As it turns out, the land of Velmyra is very real and the home of the monsters that took her best friend.
With the help of her friends (and the creator of the game itself), Violet must navigate the once-fictional creatures and powerful mages of Velmyra to retrieve a set of ancient relics—all in the hopes that the journey will lead her back to her friend. But for Violet, fighting monsters and magic workers doesn’t seem nearly as terrifying as confronting her own demons. And she’ll soon realize fighting the battle within herself can be just as tough as those fought against demigods.
Perception Check is the magical first installment of the Mages of Velmyra Saga, great for fans of Dungeons and Dragons, Critical Role, and The Magicians. With endearing and hilarious characters, an exploration of mental health and trauma, LGBTQ+ representation, gut-wrenching twists, and a whirlwind of an ending, you will never want to leave the world of Velmyra.
What I Enjoyed
Okay, where do I begin? I think I’ll start with the plot itself. It’s giving me major Inkheart vibes, so I was hooked from the beginning. Much of the book plays out like the first couple of D&D sessions—the characters come to a new place, learn some lore, fight some goons, and learn there are larger things at play. Sure, it might be cheesy but Knight navigates this so well. It’s all laid out in a way that is self-aware. The characters know they’re in a world with D&D rules and yet the plot unfolds in a way that is still exciting. Toward the end, Knight’s twist totally surprised me. I absolutely cannot wait for the sequel.
Speaking of the characters, Knight does wonders with effortless inclusivity and presents very accurate and relatable depictions of mental health. Our main character is a shining example of “just because you have mental health issues, doesn’t mean you get to be an asshole to everyone else.”
My Final Thoughts
Astrid Knight deserves a huge spotlight on their work, and I hope this review does something to help with that. This book is thoughtful, engaging, inspiring, and hilarious. Any D&D fan would enjoy this story as an ode to the game and why we play it.
Hopefully, I shared enough to pique your curiosity. Want to get reading? If so, I highly recommend you look up Astrid Knight on social media: