Review: The Life and (Medieval) Times of Kit Sweetly by Jamie Pacton

Working as a wench ― i.e. waitress ― at a cheesy medieval-themed restaurant in the Chicago suburbs, Kit Sweetly dreams of being a knight like her brother. She has the moves, is capable on a horse, and desperately needs the raise that comes with knighthood, so she can help her mom pay the mortgage and hold a spot at her dream college.

Company policy allows only guys to be knights. So when Kit takes her brother’s place 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 the Girl Knight won’t go down without a fight. As other wenches join her quest, a protest forms. In a joust before Castle executives, they’ll prove that gender restrictions should stay medieval―if they don’t get fired first.

Moxie meets A Knight’s Tale as Kit Sweetly slays sexism, bad bosses, and bad luck to become a knight at a medieval-themed restaurant.*

*Summary from Goodreads

Title: The Life and (Medieval) Times of Kit Sweetly
Author: Jamie Pacto
Publisher: Page Street Kids
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Targeted Age Range: Young Adult
Representation: Half Indian love interest, Black bisexual side character, transgender minor character, non-binary minor character
Trigger Warnings: Sexism, racism, underage drinking, underage smoking, mentions of sex, transphobia
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Kit Sweetly works at a medieval-themed restaurant called The Castle where she’s a waitress (delightfully called Wenches…I know we’re going with a theme here, but come on…) but dreams of being a knight like her brother is. Unfortunately, due to company policy, only cisgender males can be knights. Kit, however, is actively trying to make a change within the company so that she and anyone else who wants to be a knight, could be a knight. When her brother, Chris, gets in a fight before one of the performances, they hatch up a plan for her to take his place. When her identity is revealed at the end of the show and goes viral, she gets support from the press and people all over the internet. Unfortunately, corporate and her boss (who happens to be her uncle), are not too happy. Kit, deciding that she needs to take a stand, recruits her friends and coworkers to help her prove that no matter your gender, you can do anything you set your mind to.

I stumbled upon The Life and (Medieval) Times of Kit Sweetly by happy accident one night when I was searching Scribd for a new audiobook (I am in no way affiliated with Scribd, but they get a shoutout because they’ve gotten me through quarantine) and I’m so glad that I found it! This book has a lot of things I really like – a cheesy medieval-themed restaurant (how many books have that), an intelligent and hardworking MC who also is all about dismissing gender roles, a sweet friends to lovers story, and lots of fun pop culture references. 

I really enjoyed this book! I started the audiobook in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep, and maybe ended up staying awake and got through just under half of it before finally telling myself to go to sleep and continue listening in the morning. Which, I did, and yes, I finished the book that evening. I thought that the writing flowed really nicely and was easy to follow.

With a book that’s main focus is clearly centered on feminism and equality, I think it would’ve been easy to get very white feminist with Kit’s characterization. I personally felt that the author did a great job of avoiding that. While yes, Kit definitely has her struggles (single mom working multiple jobs, a dad who took off and cleaned out the college funds for Kit and her brother, sometimes skipping meals and stealing toilet paper from restaurants because they didn’t have food or toilet paper at home), Kit does recognize her privilege because she is an able-bodied, white, cisgender woman. I think that it was important that she still acknowledged that with the struggles that she faces, her race is not a factor in any of those things.

I really liked Kit.  I thought that she was very determined, passionate, hardworking, and compassionate. She was also very strong in her beliefs and did not back down when she knew that she was right. I also definitely related to her in many ways. She loves history (she’s for sure more of a history buff than I am though), she bullet journals, and definitely has some Type A personality traits. She’s also fiercely loyal to her family and friends and I loved that. Something else that I appreciated was, even though there were times where she definitely didn’t agree with her mom, she never once acted like her mom was trying to ruin her life or punish her. She recognized that her mom works incredibly hard to simply keep a roof over their heads and she never once blamed her mom for the difficulties that she faced. In fact, I think that this book had great family relationships. I loved the dynamic that Chris and Kit had, and they really did love and respect their mom, which is not always something that is seen in YA literature.

Something else that I loved was all the references to some seriously badass females in history! Kit, like myself, is a big fan of Joan of Arc, so there were lots of references to her. Other historical figures mentioned were: Matilda of Canossa, Caterina Sforza, Siichelgaita of Salerno, and Khawlah bint al-Azwar. All of whom sound so amazing and who I had honestly never heard of before this. Because of this book, I’m planning on spending some time researching them and I think it’s so cool that these women are getting some much-deserved recognition in this book. 

This story also has a great friends to lovers plotline! I loved the relationship between Kit and Jet, and right off the bat we see that they clearly have feelings for each other but they have a set of rules that include not falling for your best friend. From the get-go, I was basically screaming “GET TOGETHER ALREADY!” but more than anything they had such a strong friendship. For me, the friends to lover trope works best when the characters have a clear, solid foundation to their friendship, which they had. Jett was also, so incredibly sweet and was always there for her. I also loved Kit’s friend group! They all were really awesome and fun characters. All really supportive and encouraging and when Kit came up with a plan to get a bunch of the female and non-binary employees together to prove that they can be knights, they right away agreed. Of course, there were some ups and downs, but overall these friendships were really solid and I loved their antics.

Additionally, it is important to note that I am not Indian or Black, and I do not identiify as bisexual, non-binary or transgender. I would recommend checking out this ownvoices review from Fangirl Pixie Blog – if anyone happens to come across any other ownvoices reviews for The Life and (Medieval) Times of Kit Sweetly I would love to read them! If I come across any others I will edit this post and link them.

Overall, I thought that The Life and (Medieval) Times of Kit Sweetly was a really fun read with a great message of standing up for yourself and others and pursuing your goals. I’ll for sure be checking out more of Jamie Pacton’s work in the future. A solid 3.5 star read. 

Goodreads | TheStorygraph | Bookshop | Indie Bound 

About the Author

Jamie Pacton writes all sorts of books:  dark, feminist YA fantasy; contemporary YA stories with a funny + geeky bent; funny MG adventure-fantasy; and, even the occasional adult rom-com. She was a Pitch Wars mentee in 2015 and she mentored YA in 2016, 2017, and 2018. She grew up minutes away from the National Storytelling Center in the mountains of East Tennessee; she’s the oldest of ten kids; and, she currently lives in rural Wisconsin with her husband, their two kids, and a dog named Lego. The Life and (Medieval) Times of Kit Sweetly is her Young Adult debut.

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