*I received an audio copy of this book via NetGalley. This has not influenced my review.*
This was so fun! I smiled, I laughed, I cried. (Well, I teared up, which is as close as I usually come to crying from books, and it was the good kind of tearing up.)
I loved all the main characters. Gwen started out a bit bossy and judgy but also scared to really want anything for herself, and she grew into someone who was brave and more open to getting to know people. Arthur started out a bit reckless and petty, and he grew into someone who was more selfless, though he always stayed his slightly ridiculous, irreverent self. Bridget was stubborn and confident and knew what she wanted and wasn’t afraid to go after it and also just badass with a sword. Gabriel was the only one I feel like I didn’t know very well, but he was also scared to want anything for himself (like sister, like brother) because he was determined to be a good king and do right by his people, even though he seemed like he would rather spend his days surrounded by books. Sidney, Arthur’s best friend, was cheeky, just as reckless as Arthur, and such a great, loyal friend. Agnes was understanding and kind. See? All of them were great. And I said Gwen was brave, but honestly, all of them were brave in the end, and I don’t know, I was just proud of them!
(The only two POV characters though are Gwen and Arthur.)
The romances didn’t actually go that deep. It didn’t seem like Gwen and Bridget or Arthur and Gabriel spent much time together. But that’s fine! I still very much enjoyed the relationships and the book, I just want other readers to have the right expectations. And anyway…
The friendship and family in this book was so touching! These characters ended up in a little friend group, all caring about each other in some way, even if they weren’t all close. They helped each other out, encouraged each other—heck, saved each others’ lives.
There was a battle in this book, which did suddenly make things heavier, but it was exactly what I want all battles in books to be. The action was thrilling, because it was perfectly balanced with personal stakes and emotion and character growth.
You don’t need to know anything about Arthurian legend to enjoy this. (I don’t.) It’s not even a retelling, as far as I know, it’s mostly just that the characters are named after them.
There’s not really magic (it’s sort of mentioned as a thing some people believe in, but that’s about it) or fantasy elements, but it feels like fantasy. It’s set in a world that is I guess ours, in Medieval times, but the Arthurian legends are real.
I listened to the audiobook for this. Sarah Ovens sounded natural and suited Gwen’s character well. Alex Singh’s way of speaking dialogue didn’t always match the emotion in more serious/sad/painful moments, but his narration also sounded natural and was lively and fun and perfect for Arthur’s character the rest of the time. Voices for Gwen and Art didn’t sound super different (this applies to both narrators), but I liked the consistency between narrators (e.g. Sarah’s voice for Sidney sounded similar to Alex’s voice for Sidney). Overall, I enjoyed the audiobook and how much the characters were brought to life!
And as for the book overall, this was such a fun, chill book that I easily and happily got lost in and didn’t want to end because I was enjoying it so much!
Anyone who likes queer YA, lightly fantasy medieval settings, chill and fun stories that will make you laugh, lovable characters, a bit of romance, and sweet and supportive friendships.