The Crafter

The Mysterious Game

Children - Fantasy/Sci-Fi
182 Pages
Reviewed on 10/16/2023
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Anne-Marie Reynolds for Readers' Favorite

The Crafter: The Mysterious Game by Dan Sugralinov is a kids’ sci-fi fantasy story. When Kenny arrived in Kansas after living in New York, he expected to find a sleepy town. What he got was something completely different. His life suddenly becomes a game, but it’s nothing like the on-screen games he loves to play. Not only does he have to beat the monsters in the game, but he also has to beat the monsters and bullies he meets in real life. With Whiskers, his cat, by his side and some new-found friends, Kenny feels he can face anything. Every move must score him the maximum points, but it’s also about finding a place in a brand new world, one that will test him to his gaming limits.

The Crafter: The Mysterious Game by Dan Sugralinov is LitRPG at its best and well-aimed at its target audience. This is more than just a role-playing fantasy game, though. It also teaches kids about dealing with real-world experiences, such as a parent leaving or bullies in the schoolyard. It’s about having confidence in yourself and learning how to make friends and work as a team. The book is written in easy-to-follow language with some wonderfully developed characters that most kids, especially gamers, will find easy to relate to. It’s a combination of coming-of-age and fantasy with a narrative that perfectly fits both the real and gaming worlds. There is plenty of action to keep kids interested, and it’s a really inspiring read for them. This is the first in The Crafter series and is a great start. Looking forward to reading the next one.

Afifa Raisa

The Crafter: The Mysterious Game by Dan Sugralinov is a middle-grade book in the LitRPG genre. It follows the story of Kenny, a young boy who has just moved to Kansas from New York City. The transition proves to be bumpy, to say the least, and his life is further upended when he comes across a mysterious gaming console that can physically transport him into the game world. He soon finds himself grappling with challenges both on and off the game. To make things more intense, he discovers an uncanny connection between the two worlds. His firm determination keeps him going, and along the way, he fights seemingly impossible battles, develops unlikely friendships, and makes unforeseen discoveries.

Dan Sugralinov’s The Crafter: The Mysterious Game appealed to my emotions right from the beginning. I loved how Sugralinov portrayed Kenny’s inner turmoil when leaving the place he had called home for so long; the way he craved to catch a glimpse of his father earned my sincere sympathy and attention. Following the poignant start, the excitement came with Kenny’s arrival in the game world. I could indeed feel the range of emotions including the buzz, the discomfort, and the elation that the moments in the game brought to him. Although his life in the real world was intriguing enough, I could not wait for him to dive back into the game every time he exited it. It shows how wonderfully Sugralinov crafted the game world and delivered the story in the voice of the young protagonist.

Liz Konkel

The Crafter: The Mysterious Game by Dan Sugralinov turns gaming into a reality and a young boy into a hero. Kenny was prepared for his life to be changed after leaving Kansas for New York. However, he never expected to be drawn into a game with lessons that seep into the real world. This is unlike anything he’s ever played before and he soon realizes that the events in the game reflect the real-life circumstances happening in his life. With his cat Whiskers as the best partner in crime, he searches for a way to fit into his new home and discovers that his adventure is only beginning.

The story balances a gaming adventure with a coming-of-age journey that takes Kenny through the ups and downs of his new life. These elements will appeal to children by immersing them in a gaming world. Though the story is structured around a video game, the writing is easy to understand, and even with little gaming knowledge, the story is enjoyable. The action, excitement, and intensity create a fast-paced plot. Whiskers is a delightful character who gives emotional stability that grounds Kenny. Though he’s struggling to fit in, dealing with bullies, and fears making friends, Kenny faces these issues through the game and this creates a way for him to literally work out his issues. These factors will make Kenny relatable to children experiencing moving, friendship problems, parental issues, and feelings of being out of place. The gaming adventure is woven throughout the plot in a way that doesn’t feel jarring with his real-life journey. Dan Sugralinov structures the story to fit the structure of a game with levels and upgrades that effectively create the illusion of being in the game with Kenny as he’s playing. The Mysterious Game is an exciting adventure with a daring young hero, and a coming-of-age journey that children will love.

Jaqueline Neves

The Crafter: The Mysterious Game by Dan Sugralinov takes young readers on a thrilling adventure with Kenny, a young boy who relocates to a small town in Kansas with his mother and their trusty feline companion, Mr. Whiskers, following his parents' divorce. Kenny's attempts to make friends at his new school are met with the harsh reality of bullying due to his outsider status. However, everything changes when he starts playing a new console game. Both he and Mr. Whiskers find themselves trapped in a pixelated world reminiscent of Minecraft. What initially seems like a gamer's dream turns into a perilous journey as the stakes become real, and Kenny and his feline ally must navigate the game's challenges and adversaries to find their way back to the real world.

As an OG or Old Gamer (as the millennials would call me), I found The Crafter: The Mysterious Game by Dan Sugralinov to be a captivating read. The vivid descriptions of the pixelated game world immerse readers, making them feel as though they are truly part of the adventure. The struggles faced by the main character, both in the real world and within the gaming realm, are relatable and add depth to the narrative. The plot's progression keeps you eagerly turning the pages, and the well-crafted characters and themes add to the overall appeal of the book. The Crafter is a must-read for gamers and adventure enthusiasts alike, offering a unique blend of real-world challenges and virtual escapades that will keep you hooked from start to finish.

Pikasho Deka

The Crafter: The Mysterious Game by Dan Sugralinov is a children's sci-fi/fantasy novel. Eleven-year-old Kenny Williams doesn't like that his mother is moving them from the hustle and bustle of New York City to the quaint little town of Stonewood in Kansas. But when he comes across a new gaming console, he puts his worries aside. While playing the game, Kenny enters a world filled with predatory creatures where he must acquire new abilities and rise through the levels. In the game, Kenny can communicate with his elderly cat, Whiskers, who becomes his helpful sidekick. But now, Kenny must fight Deathblaze the Dragon and protect his Shelter, for which he needs allies. Can his newfound friends help him overcome Deathblaze? Will Kenny and his friends be able to finish the game and get back to the real world?

The Mysterious Game is an entertaining adventure fantasy litRPG novel for preteens and young adults alike. Action-packed and featuring undead zombie birds, talking cats, and three-headed dragons, Dan Sugralinov's book is bound to appeal to fantasy lovers and gamers. This is progression fantasy at its finest. Sugralinov wastes no time in putting readers into the thick of things, and the pace never slows down. The game world truly feels like something straight out of a video game, and you can't help but marvel in awe and wonder as Kenny faces different threats and new challenges. The characters are as colorful and vibrant as the worldbuilding. I liked how Kenny stands up to his bullies yet goes out of his way in his attempts to make new friends. The book ends on a cliffhanger, leaving me eager to read the sequel. A treat for litRPG readers and gamers!