THE RENAISSANCE OF GWEN HATHAWAY
by Ashley Schumacher
E-galley available on Edelweiss
Ever since her mother’s death, Madeline “Gwen” Hathaway has been determined to ensure that nothing in her life will ever change again. She keeps extensive lists in her journal so that she’ll never forget anything, flips a coin to make decisions, and looks forward to the monotony of working the renaissance faire circuit every year with her father. To her, the unknown is fear-inducing, something that invites heartbreak.
But when Maddie arrives at the final stop on the ren faire circuit—her mother’s favorite stop—she finds it under new management and completely different from how it once was. To make matters even worse, the new owners have a son named Arthur, who is determined to become Maddie’s friend and make her the Princess of the Faire. Despite her attempts to push him away, in fear of finding herself caring about someone else that she could one day lose, Arthur is relentless in his pursuit—he even grants her the nickname Gwen. But when his persistence pays off, Maddie finds herself having a summer of faire festivities (as the faire’s princess, nonetheless!), road trips, and more—and she might even be having fun.
I’ll just say it—I love anything and everything involving a renaissance faire, and the setting alone made me so excited to pick this book up. But it was the story itself that made me fall in love—from the loveable and quirky characters, to the beautiful relationship that builds throughout, and the hard-hitting discussions of grief. Maddie’s blossoming romance with Arthur captures two teens, each with insecurities of their own, as they meet each other with empathy and respect, and a desire to help each other grow and heal. As Maddie learns to let love into her heart and give it to herself as well, she learns to create her own happiness.
With some oh-so-perfect chemistry and banter between the two MCs, and an incredibly authentic portrayal of the difficulties in overcoming loss, this book is the perfect mix of hilarious and heartwarming. And the magical and fantastical setting filled with magicians, knights, kings and queens, and castles was the perfect cherry on top. Pitched as a mix of DUMPLIN’ and WELL MET for YA readers, and perfect for fans of FAT CHANCE, CHARLIE VEGA, THE RENAISSANCE OF GWEN HATHAWAY is a book I will never stop recommending, with characters you will root for until the very end. The verdict is in: Ashley Schumacher has done it again!
“This is a wise, beautiful, funny book with tremendous heart. Schumacher treats all her characters with compassion and artfully blends a tale of deep grief with joy, reminding readers that magic is everywhere and that none of our stories are truly over, even when it might seem like it.”
—Jamie Pacton, author of THE LIFE AND (MEDIEVAL) TIMES OF KIT SWEETLY and LUCKY GIRL