For Kit Sweetly, the Castle, a medieval-themed restaurant with tournaments, knights, squires, and serving wenches, is practically the family business. Her uncle runs it; her brother Chris is the Red Knight; and she, much to her feminist chagrin, works as a wench. Kit’s been going there since she was a kid, she’s a true nerd about the Middle Ages (“Yeah. I have a heraldry book”), and she’s well aware of women’s roles riding and fighting. She even knows Chris’s routine, but company policy says that women can only be wenches or princesses. It’s not just the principle of the thing motivating Kit, either: knights earn more, and Kit’s family finances mean that she has to save for college. So when Chris doesn’t show one night, Kit jousts in his stead, creating havoc and ending up the star of a viral video. Debut author Pacton has a light touch, deftly balancing details of the real Middle Ages and the fake Castle version, and setting up Kit’s feminist battle with the higher-ups through the teen’s entertaining first-person narrative. The long-simmering attraction between Kit and her handsome friend Jett feels unsurprising, but Kit’s determination is handled well, as is her connection to friends and family. Ages 14–up. Agent: Kate Testerman, KT Literary. (May)
"A rousing, funny, feminist workplace fantasy that also takes a frank look at modern poverty." – Kirkus
“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
“For every girl who’s been told she can’t, and shows them all that she will. This fun and feminist book stole my heart from the first page.” – Sonia Hartl, author of Have a Little Faith in Me
“For anyone who's ever had a roadblock to their dreams. A funny, fierce, inclusive story that will leave you feeling ready to draw your own sword and ride into battle. Kit is my champion!”– M.K. England, author of The Disasters and Spellhacker
“Curl up with a blanket and some cocoa, for reading this book in one sitting is certain to be a knight to remember.” – Rachel Strolle, Teen Services Coordinator, Glenside Public Library District
“As a former serving wench, I can confirm this book is accurate. As a current bookseller, I can confirm this book is AMAZING. A must-read for everyone who ever dreamed of wielding a sword and jousting into the sunset.” – Amanda Quain, One More Page Books
“Full of high-octane sass, girl-power, quirky historical tidbits, and just the right amount of delicious romance. A fun, page-turning delight.”– Joy Preble, Brazos Bookstore
“This mix of workplace comedy, working class struggle, and gender equality activism is sure to please YA fans, whether or not you've ever picked up a sword or ridden a horse.” – Cecilia Cackley, East City Bookshop
“A sharp comedy and a poignant, unflinching portrayal of the working poor that will have you laughing one moment and determined to change the world the next. You won't be able to put it down until you see if this Lady Knight comes out on top.” – Melissa Posten, The Novel Neighbor
“Hilarious and heartfelt, Jamie Pacton’s debut is not to be missed.”– Mike Lasagna, The Barking Goose Bookstore
Gr 9 Up—Kit Sweetly is a serving wench at the local medieval-inspired dinner theater restaurant, the Castle. The term "wench" is not one she prefers, but it seems to be an unfortunate reality of her job. That, and the reality that the Castle continues to perpetuate stereotypical gender roles for its employees. Only cis men are permitted to be knights even when others are perfectly qualified, like Kit. One evening sets off a chain of events that could topple the patriarchy of the entire Castle corporation. Kit rides as a knight, becoming a social media sensation and inspiring her coworkers to start an underground training for a more diverse knight population. Besides being an agent for change, Kit is struggling with her mom and brother to make ends meet, applying to colleges, and slowly falling in love with one of her best friends. Although the cast includes bisexual, transgender, and nonbinary characters, the main character is straight and cisgender. The other characters seem to serve as background and the fuel to fire Kit's motivation to change the Castle's culture. Kit's mission is one to be applauded and cheered on, but using nonbinary and transgender characters as underdeveloped background seems like a missed opportunity. Kit is a senior who is struggling with the college admissions process, yet she never actually seems to attend school. In fact, she seems to ignore school while handling everything else. Does this happen at times? Sure, but the lack of repercussions is notable. VERDICT Overall, this novel is a strong voice for feminism and workplace equality. Fans of Rainbow Rowell will appreciate the relatable characters and a cause to root for.—Carrie Finberg, South Park High School, PA
A girl fights to modernize her medieval workplace in this energetic debut.
Seventeen-year-old Serving Wench Kit Sweetly wants to fight like her older brother, Chris, the Red Knight. After all, it’s the 21st century, and the Castle might be a medieval-themed restaurant chain, but corporate policy limits knighthood to males. History nerd Kit rejects the myths (embraced by historically uninformed white supremacists) that medieval European societies were all-white and patriarchal and soon recruits others to her cause. Secretly, she’s fighting not just for equality, but also for her future: Kit needs more money. Kit, Chris, and their mother are working poor, facing daily problems like power cuts, missed bills, mystery meals, and, now, imperiled college dreams. Pacton offers some historical tidbits but revels in pop-culture medieval fantasy references, invoking Joan of Arc alongside fictional characters from The Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, and even the cheese-tastic, knowingly anachronistic A Knight’s Tale. Kit is white, and her fellow workers are diverse in race, gender, and orientation—best friend Layla is black, and emphatically not-boyfriend (because they don’t want to risk ruining their friendship) Jett is half Indian/half Russian and all suave, while Kit’s recruits are Chinese American, nonbinary, and trans.
A rousing, funny, feminist workplace romp that also takes a frank look at modern poverty. (Humor. 14-18)