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NetGalley Review: The Renaissance of Gwen Hathaway by Ashley Schumacher

Hey all, Sam here.

As soon as David gets off work, we’ll be starting our “weekend.” His work schedule is going to be a bit odd for the next couple weeks, but then it should settle down. But I’m really excited for what we have planned for the next couple of days. We’re giving the 3D printers a couple days of rest, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t doing more geek work. The plan is to set up our photo booth corner in the workshop and take a whole bunch of photos from our inventory of 3D prints.

Of course, I’m also hoping to tidy up the office a little bit, and get my writing desk space set up more, so if everything goes well, I might be able to do a writing space tour in the next WIP Wednesday post. And then, of course, I’m hoping to do more reading and writing this weekend. So, it should be pretty busy overall, but I’m excited about it all.

All right, well I guess I should get this weekend started with a book review, so let’s jump in.

Since her mother’s death, Madeline “Gwen” Hathaway has been determined that nothing in her life will change ever again. That’s why she keeps extensive lists in journals, has had only one friend since childhood, and looks forward to the monotony of working the ren faire circuit with her father. Until she arrives at her mother’s favourite end-of-tour stop to find the faire is under new management and completely changed.

Meeting Arthur, the son of the new owners and an actual lute-playing bard, messes up Maddie’s plans even more. For some reason, he wants to be her friend – and ropes her into becoming Princess of the Faire. Now Maddie is overseeing a faire dramatically changed from what her mother loved and going on road trips vastly different from the routine she used to rely on. Worst of all, she’s kind of having fun.

Ashley Schumacher’s The Renaissance of Gwen Hathaway is filled with a wise old magician who sells potion bottles, gallant knights who are afraid of horses and ride camels instead, kings with a fondness for theatrics, a lazy river castle moat with inflatable crocodile floaties, and a plus-sized heroine with a wide-open heart… if only she just admits it.

My Thoughts

Rating: 5 stars

So, I read this book back in December, because I was really missing being at the Ren Faire. Most of the time I try not to read a book so far before publication. That is especially true because when I read this one, I hadn’t quite decided to jump back into blogging. But I’m glad that I’ve made the decision to blog again, because oh boy, I’ve really missed this.

I miss Ren Faires too. 2022 was the first year I haven’t gone to the faire since I went for the first time back in 2017. I absolutely love getting dressed up in garb and wandering around, trying out all the delicious food, seeing the different shows, and browsing the shops and stalls. There’s basically no feeling like it, aside from maybe going to comic cons.

Now this isn’t the first Ren Faire focused book that I’ve read (if you haven’t checked out the Well Met series by Jen DeLuca, you’re missing out), but I did devour this book just about as quickly. Getting to follow a teen whose family work and travel the faire circuit made for an interesting story.

Maddie was a compelling story and I really felt for her. I don’t know what it’s like to lose a parent the way that she did, but I do know what it feels like when a parent is just gone. It’s tough at any age, and it does change things. And I understood her reluctance when Arthur kept popping up and trying to pull her into doing things.

Arthur was cute and fun, but he also had his own struggles. I loved watching the friendship develop between Arthur and Maddie, and them going on all their little week day trips (traveling on paths that I went on while driving between conventions, so that was fun for me).

Honestly, this story just felt real and cute and honest and emotional, and I was definitely wrapped up in all of it. I ended up reading this story very quickly, and I can’t wait to have a finished copy on my shelves.


This book will be released on March 14th in the US.

All right, that is all from me for today. Thank you so much for stopping by, and I’ll be back soon with more geeky content.

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