Moxie's Problem by Hank Quense
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Let me start this off by saying that I HATE super deep fantasy stories. Wizard, orcs, elves, ugh! No, thank you! I'm not a fan and never will be. And I ESPECIALLY hate King Arthur and all that knights of the round table garbage. It takes itself way too seriously, and I could never understand why. But just like Mark Twain turned all that seriousness on its head with A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, Hank Quiense does a similar thing with his book, Moxie's Problem. But instead of using a modern day stranger who enters a strange world of chivalry and battle armor, Hank Quense does something even more impressive in that he uses characters within the King Arthur (Artie) universe and makes it funny. That's a feat all in itself.
What makes this story so funny is just how weird it is. Instead of grand scale battles, they play soccer. And instead of Moxie being a blushing damsel in distress, she's super annoying and even kind of ugly (I think I recall one scene where someone says they wouldn't kiss her because she has hair on her face!), so it's a nice switch-up of the tropes that we're all familiar and mostly tired of. But here's the thing. Moxie ISN'T annoying the entire story, and I think that's where this book shines the most. Even with all the humor with the other characters, what I think I like best about this book is Moxie's growth. By the end of the story, she's not the same character that she was in the beginning, which shows the true calling card of a master writer. It's incredible that I grew to like her toward the end of the book.
But I do have a big problem with this book, and that's the cover. I know you shouldn't judge a story by what's on the outside, but that cover is just too terrible not to talk about. If this book hadn't been recommended to me, there is no way I would have picked it up. That cover is just not appealing at all and it doesn't match the zany, craziness that happens within. If I had one recommendation for Mr. Quense, it would be to get rid of that cover! The writing is too good to be shackled down by such a crummy looking picture. Other than that, this book is fantastic. A little long, but it kept my interest throughout, so I applaud it. Give it a read.
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