A Guest Review by LenaLena
Review Summary: Rough, raw and violent. With the slowest burn ever to burn slowly. Completely unsuitable for teens. You should totally read it.
Neil Josten is the newest addition to the Palmetto State University Exy team. He’s short, he’s fast, he’s got a ton of potential—and he’s the runaway son of the murderous crime lord known as The Butcher.
Signing a contract with the PSU Foxes is the last thing a guy like Neil should do. The team is high profile and he doesn’t need sports crews broadcasting pictures of his face around the nation. His lies will hold up only so long under this kind of scrutiny and the truth will get him killed.
But Neil’s not the only one with secrets on the team. One of Neil’s new teammates is a friend from his old life, and Neil can’t walk away from him a second time. Neil has survived the last eight years by running. Maybe he’s finally found someone and something worth fighting for.
I just finished reading The Foxhole Court and I am wondering what to say about it. It’s, ah, fucked up. It really is. I don’t think you can find characters as screwed in the head as these outside of self-published fiction these days. It’s a little bit like if the characters of ‘In The Company Of Shadows‘ were playing college sports instead of assassinating terrorists for a secret government agency. This is a compliment.
So there is this sport called Exy, which seems to be a cross between lacrosse and jai lai, with plenty of hockey style violence thrown in. In the world of this book Exy is so popular that colleges are building stadiums for it that seat 65,000 people. The athletes are celebrities. Enter Neil, who is being recruited, but who is on the run from his Mafia dad and needs to lay low. He is far from the most screwed up kid on the Foxes, though, and they have ways of recruiting that hurt, so Neil joins, against his better judgment.
I have to admit that the first 2/3 of the book felt a bit weird. It was hard to figure out why people were doing what they were doing. Considering the fact that what most people were doing was being complete assholes and/or psychopaths this was a little disturbing. It felt oddly directionless, with lots of violent stuff happening and no sense of what the point of the story was and where it was going. Plot wise this part of the book slowly filled in Neil’s back story. I think this could have been done more efficiently by not stringing it out so much. That would have tightened up the story a lot and would have gotten the reader to the good stuff faster. Because in that last third of the book the story and the characters grabbed me and did not let go, so there was the good stuff. When Neil is forced to step up instead of running away the book changes. When Neil starts caring about his teammates, the reader starts caring about Neil. And his crazy teammates. This journey is slow, but so well done that the people that seem irredeemable at first turn out to be worth knowing after all. In it’s own special way the book ends up being very engrossing. Happily for me the sequel is out already. Unhappily for me, book 3 isn’t yet.
If you’re looking for realism, please go look elsewhere. Between the Exy and non-Exy related violence, the Yakuza family politics and the (literally) psychotic teenagers taking on the world this isn’t what I would call true to life. It also has the slowest of slow burns ever. In fact, our main character Neil is completely asexual throughout this whole book. He doesn’t even cop to his sexuality; the most we hear about it is that his mother has beaten his attraction to girls out of him at some point in the past. The only reason I am reviewing it here is that I have it on good authority (read: I went through the author’s blog from beginning to end looking for clues) that it is in fact a slow burn and there will be a couple and it is not just a crazy sports trilogy about screwed up college kids. It probably says enough that at this point I can’t even say for sure who the other half of the couple is going to be, though. I’ll get back to you in the comments if I figure it out after reading The Raven King, which I will hopefully have finished by the time this review posts.
Either way, if you like your stories raw and your characters with lots of rough edges this book should satisfy that need very nicely. Best of all, this book is free and the sequel is just 99 cents. You have nothing to lose!