Gwen & Art Are Not in Love

Wednesday Bks. Nov. 2023. 416p. Tr $20. ISBN 9781250847218.
Gr 9 Up–In this queer historical romp, similar in tone to “The Lady Janies” series and the TV show Merlin, the descendants of Arthurian legend have grown up nemeses until a political betrothal forces them to turn their future marriage into something that might work in their favor. Both Art and Gwen are queer and prepare to use each other as beards to pursue their own happily ever after without causing too much political discord. But parents and politics have other ideas as the summer tournament circuit becomes something more serious: cultists of King Arthur begin to foment rebellion, and their parents are pulling them to opposite sides of the coming war. With their found family in jeopardy, Gwen, Art, and their love interests are forced to claim their power quickly, or have it taken from them. Croucher has created a vibrant medieval world for their readers to fall into with funny, well-developed characters to flesh out the story, and complex royal family dynamics adding layers to the drama. Their vivacious writing style lends modern tone and humor to historical elements, pulling readers close and carrying them through court politics, tournaments, and battle scenes. The romances that fuel the narrative are delightful, from their tension to the queer-panic to the kissing. In addition to the queer characters, there is coded racial diversity throughout.
VERDICT Heart-warming and hilarious, a first purchase for library collections.

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