“Leaving meant living, but Neil’s way of living was survival, nothing more. It was new names and new places and never looking back.”
Blurb: “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.”
This book was recommended to me by the wonderful Tasha over at Faeriedrugs . She’s quite a big advocate for this series and initially I didn’t have much intention of reading it as sport doesn’t interest me. However, I gave this a shot and was really surprised to find that it is about so much that the fictional athletic side, though that does obviously play a big part.
The story follows Neil Josten, a boy keeping his fair share of secrets, who is poached to join a university team playing a sport called Exy; which is described as an “evolved sort of lacrosse on a soccer-sized court with the violence of hockey.” The Palmetto State University team – known as the foxes – are a group of talented rejects from less fortunate backgrounds and the opposite of Neil’s plans to stay out of the limelight, yet he finds himself taking up the offer.
The Foxhole Court is the first of a trilogy and is basically a set up book. It’s like the prequel to a novel; setting up everything you need to know and because of this, the book does end in a kind of awkward way. It’s a slow burn with this first book.
I’ve read a lot of books recently where the protagonists haven’t been that strong but Nora has created a fantastic character in the form of Neil Josten. It’s not entirely clear what his motivations are until a fair way into the plot but there was just something electric about him. I could believe that he was a person.
What shocked me was how brutal this book actually is: when it’s stated that the team is made up of a bunch of messed up rejects, they’re really not skimping on that. It all added to the realness of it and how, despite the awful things they had endured, they all shared a love for this one thing: Exy.
While a few scenes take place outside of training, the majority are centred around conversations had while preparing for their first game of the season. It shows the process of them bonding and how Neil starts to see himself as part of a group rather than a solo player.
There were a lot of things I wasn’t expecting from this, but truthfully that’s a sign of a good book: when it challenges your expectations and encourages you to see beyond that first page.
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