Shakespeare for Squirrels, by Christopher Moore

Shakespeare for Squirrels is the third novel in Christopher Moore’s series featuring Pocket of Dog Snogging on Ouse, all-licensed jester, former king, and marooned pirate. (The series begins with Fool and continues with The Serpent of Venice.) Like the other books in the series, Pocket is landed smack in the middle of a story we’ll recognize from Shakespeare before everything goes off the rails. This time, Pocket and his apprentice Drool have fetched up on the shores of Greece after being set adrift at sea by pirates. It didn’t take me long to realize that Pocket and Drool have crash-landed inside A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

After some pointed comments by Pocket about no one in this patch of woods allegedly near Athens is dressed like a Greek, the erstwhile jester is suddenly in the middle of a lot of schemes. An altercation with two members of Duke Theseus’ officers leads to Drool being held hostage and Pocket being tasked, separately, by Theseus and his unwilling fiancee Hypolita, with tracking down the Puck‘s murderer, finding a love potion, and delivering messages all over the place. In short order, Pocket meets the aggravating quartet of lovers (Helena, Hermia, Demetrius, and Lysander), Titania, Oberon, and a bunch of fairies and goblins. It’s a lot to take in.

In typical Christopher Moore style, this plot is peppered with constant sex jokes (I feel Shakespeare would approve), allusions to literary works, and running jokes (Pocket speaks “perfect fucking French). It’s all very silly even if Shakespeare for Squirrels is sort of a murder mystery and there is at least one revolution in it. Readers who are not prepared for Moore’s incessant joking and knob gags might get irritated with Pocket. For me, I found Shakespeare for Squirrels to be a fun romp through Midsummer after two books that are as much tragedy as comedy. Even though Pocket and Drool are repeatedly threatened with death, I liked that Pocket got a story where he gets to be his best jester-self and, possibly, finds another love.

An illustration from A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Henry Fuseli, showing Titania and Bottom, published 1796 (Image via Wikicommons)

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