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Reviewed by Alice DiNizo for Readers' Favorite
Readers both familiar and unfamiliar with William Shakespeare's characters will appreciate this gem of a story. John Falstaff, now self-named Sir John Falstaff, and his page Poulet are escaping on horseback from an angry husband. Falstaff, fat as he is, has a way with married ladies and their money. Meanwhile, in Denmarko, Prince Hamlet is entranced with raising bees, "to bee or not to bee", while his dead father sends messages to Hamlet to kill Clodio, now King of Denmarko and married to Hamlet's mother. And also included in this humorous tale that uses Shakespearean characters is Othello, happily married to Desdemonda, and serving as Minister of Homeland Security in nearby Dun Hythe. Othello is hated by Iago the troll who wants his job. Do all these characters sound familiar? Well, what they are up to is not quite what the Bard offered long ago. Othello and Falstaff agree to hire dwarfs to raid the pirate ships that roam the nearby harbor but somehow Falstaff ends up pirating the pirate ships and helping pocket the profits.
Rosencrantz and Guildersleeve throw Hamlet overboard when he sets out to stop the piracy, and Falstaff saves the royal prince from drowning and they become best of friends. Will this story show readers what it is that is "rotten in the state of Denmarko"? Author Hank Quense has written a totally humorous tongue-in-cheek story using famous Shakespearean characters who live and play side by side with trolls, dwarfs and elves who speak rough and broken English straight out of the Bronx. The plot moves rapidly with twists and turns that take us to the story's end and Falstaff is scheming once again in a new setting. This is an engaging tale with characters that resemble their Shakespearean origins while the multiple plots pay lip service to two of Shakespeare’s most famous tragedies, now changed into comedies. The reader who is familiar with Shakespeare will enjoy "Falstaff's Big Gamble" the most.