I read a sample of this book on BookishFirst, and while I didn’t win a copy, I did find a book that I was dying to read! The sample was so good and immediately peaked my interest. I was so happy when Penguin Teen offered this as a book I could download for review, I immediately jumped on it.
Thank you to Penguin Teen and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC for review. This is a spoiler free, honest review and all thoughts and feelings are my own.
The Other Merlin by Robyn Schneider
Release Date: September 21, 2021
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Genre: YA Fantasy
Channeling the modern humor of A Knight’s Tale , bestselling author Robyn Schneider creates a Camelot that becomes the ultimate teen rom-com hotspot in this ultra-fresh take on the Arthurian legend.
Welcome to the great kingdom of Camelot. Prince Arthur’s a depressed botanist who would rather marry a library than a princess, Lancelot’s been demoted to castle guard after a terrible misunderstanding, and nothing is going according to plan. Then Arthur accidentally pulls the sword from the stone (in his defense, he was drunk and mostly kidding), and now everyone’s convinced he’s some prophesied hero.
Emry Merlin is stuck in her small town. Her father, the legendary court wizard, disappeared years ago, and Emry’s been peddling theater tricks to make ends meet. When a royal messenger arrives summoning her far less talented twin brother to serve as Prince Arthur’s right-hand wizard, Emry is understandably upset. But after Emmett becomes indisposed thanks to a bad spell, Emry disguises herself as her brother and travels to the royal court to impersonate him until they can switch.
Studying magic at the castle is everything Emry hoped for. But life in King Uther’s court is full of scandals, lies, and backstabbing courtiers. What’s a casually bisexual teen wizard masquerading as her twin brother to do? Other than fall for the handsome prince, stir trouble with the foppish Lord Gawain, offend Princess Guinevere, and make herself indispensable to the future of Camelot?
When the truth comes out with disastrous consequences, Emry has to decide whether she’ll risk everything for the boy she loves, or give up her potential to become the greatest wizard Camelot has ever known.
To start off, I love when original stories/tales are gender bent. In this case, we have the children of the great wizard Merlin, Emry and Emmett – girl/boy twins who both possess the powers of their father, though it’s clear that Emry is much strong than Emmett.
Emry is such a great MC, but I loved getting the story through Arthur and Lance’s POV as well. We get a few extra POVs here, including Emmett’s, Gawain’s, and even Guinevere’s, but for the most part, this book is written through Emry and Arthur’s POV. I loved getting to see this story from different angles and know what other characters are thinking and feeling. First person POVs are great for some books, but I am a total fan of third person in this story. It makes it so much better!
I loved Arthur and Lance too, and while I wasn’t a fan of Gawain and Guinevere at first, I grew to like them too. Though I still don’t like Emmett as a character. Emry’s relationship with Arthur and Lance is just so wonderful and I was shipping her with Arthur the entire time! Lance is also a great friend to Arthur and I can tell that they truly care about each other. There are a lot of friendships that I loved in this book, though some didn’t start out that way.
And then the relationships and potential relationships are so cute! Plus, I loved that Emry is bi! There is some good rep in this book, including Lance who’s gay and obviously, Emry is bi. I’m hoping we get more representation in the next book, because I love seeing it!
In terms of the plot, I liked the story line. I’m so glad there is going to be another book in the series because I love what Robyn did and I want to read more of it. We get a great look at the magic system, how magic came to be, and what might be heading our way in future books. I’m not sure how many books are planned for this series, but I could see this being a trilogy, there’s so much potential.
Another thing I really liked about the book was the humor. This book is more lighthearted and is filled with great humor. While there are some darker moments in the book it’s generally light and a lot of fun to read! The only thing I could think of that I didn’t like was the modern jokes/slang in the book. It’s such a small thing to be mad about but it was weird to have modern jokes or modern items mentioned for a time period that’s meant to be 1,000 years ago. I get why it’s included, but it throws me off while reading.
Overall, this was such a good book and it was so light and funny. I loved the set up for future books and I can’t wait for more Arthur and Emry moments!! If you like genderbent Arthurian legend, lighthearted comedy, or friendships to die for then you should definitely check out this book. It’s so good!
Want more Arthurian legend books? Check these books out! (Spoiler free reviews linked below)
Legenborn by Tracy Deonn
The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White