The Life and (Medieval) Times of Kit Sweetly
by Jamie Pacton
Hardcover, 371 pages
Published May 5, 2020 by Page Street Kids/Page Street Publishing
Buy this at Old Firehouse Books or another independent bookstore via BookShop.org
Reviewed by Katherine Valdez
I came across The Life and (Medieval) Times of Kit Sweetly while indulging in one of my favorite pastimes: wandering the Young Adult section of the local public library.
The title, the cover art, and the premise transported me back to college days when my friends and I celebrated a roommate’s birthday at Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament (“Epic Battles of Steel and Steed”)
Yes, this type of place really exists.
We ate roasted chicken (with our hands? Can’t remember.) We cheered for our knight. We had a blast.
A glimpse at the website reveals that although the Queen now offers vegetarian meals (quite progressive of her), the knights all appear to be―alas―male. Maybe Kit Sweetly will inspire Her Majesty to develop more inclusive hiring practices.
Until then, you won’t be disappointed by author Jamie Pacton’s humorous and inspiring debut novel featuring a diverse cast of characters.
Moxie meets A Knight’s Tale as seventeen-year-old Kit Sweetly slays sexism, bad bosses, and bad luck to transform from serving wench into knight at a medieval-themed restaurant.
Joust Like a Girl
Company policy allows only guys to be Knights. So when Kit takes her brother’s palace, clobbers the Green Knight, and reveals her identity at the end of the show, she rockets into Internet fame and a whole lot of trouble with the management.
But this Girl Knight won’t go down without a fight.
As other serving Wenches and cast members join her quest, a protest forms. In a joust before Castle executives, they’ll prove gender restrictions should stay medieval – if they don’t get fired first.
All Hail Kit of the Castle!
The Red Knight only fights on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Much to the everlasting chagrin of my boss, King Richard the Bold, aka Len Schwartz.
Tonight’s Friday, and the Red Knight, my older brother, Chris, is running late. Again.
“Please, please, please let me fight.” I pace across Len’s tiny office, my skirts swishing. “I know all the moves, and I’ve been practicing. For years!”
“You’re a Serving Wench!” snaps Len, not looking up from the―I shit you not―golden chalice he insists on drinking coffee from. “We’ve talked about this before. You serve the guests. Let the real actors take care of the story.”
- The premise. What other novel takes place at a medieval dinner theater in which the teen protagonist dreams of performing as a knight?
- The realistic portrayal of a struggling, formerly middle-class family slipping into poverty.
- Kit’s interesting, spirited friends of diverse cultural backgrounds and identities. One friend’s pronouns are they/them.
- The kind and loving relationships between Kit, her brother, and their single mother.
- The supportive best friendships between Kit and (a) potential love interest Jett, whose parents are a physicist from India and an anthropology professor from Russia, and (b) Layla, who is kind, beautiful, and wealthy.
- Kit’s passion, determination and commitment to crush gender stereotypes and achieve her dreams.
What Others Say
“A smart, fun, feminist romp with lots and lots of heart. You’ll be cheering for Kit Sweetly all the way on her quest to be seen and heard as she is.”
― Brittany Cavallaro, New York Times bestselling author of A Study in Charlotte
A rousing, funny, feminist fantasy that also takes a frank look at modern poverty.
– Kirkus Reviews
I think again of all the women in the Middle Ages, especially of the Wife of Bath. Bold, brave, saucy, and spirited. Traveling to pilgrimage sites was kind of her thing. Exactly the kind of woman I want to be. Minus the six husbands and all that.
…we leave the donut shop before I have time to pilfer the bathroom for supplies, but that’s okay for now. Pilgrimage awaits.
About The Author
Jamie Pacton grew up minutes away from the National Storytelling Center in the mountains of East Tennessee. She adores architecture, gardens, art museums, beaches, cake, and whiskey. She even kind of likes getting stuck in airports if she has a good book. Currently, she lives in rural Wisconsin with her husband, their two kids, and a dog named Lego. Find her on Instagram @JamiePacton or on www.JamiePacton.com
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This post was also published at NoSpoilersBookReviews.com