I've been writing about medievalist YA--i.e., YA (& middle-grade) books set in versions of the Middle Ages or that engage with the Middle Ages in some way. Here's a list of interesting titles I've come across. They can be playful since medievalism is about adaptation.
"Sometimes We Tell the Truth," a retelling of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, by Kim Zarins. Delightful read. Very sharp take on adapting Chaucerian stories, and great role for one of my favorite (often maligned) characters: The Pardoner. She also has the best stickers for fans!
"The Real Boy," by Anne Ursu (middle-grade-ish). The protagonist is an autistic herbalist living in a medievalist city ruled by the guild system. It features cats, nature magic, friendship, a mystery, and an achingly real look at how difficult neurotypical society can be.
"Queens of Geek," by Jen Wilde. New Adult. I classify this as medievalist because it centres on a convention fantasy space, and the protagonist's medievalist fandom (Queen Firestone). Explores both sexuality and neurodivergence while adapting medieval queendom.
"Carry On" by Rainbow Rowell. As an adaptation of Harry Potter, it's actually more explicitly medievalist in how the school becomes a kind of medieval university (complete with catacombs, Latin lessons, towers, sword-fighting, and cloisters). Also includes neuroatypical protag.
"The Wee Free Men" + whole Tiffany Aching series. Discworld is maybe just tacitly medievalist, but also celebrates medievalism's flavor of varied adaptations. Delightful witch girl hero, fairy antagonist, fusion of witchcraft with medicine/ midwifery, and Pictish myths.
"Alanna: The First Adventure," by Tamora Pierce. Well-known middle-grade. Protagonist is AFAB & disguised as a boy to become a knight (though readers could just as easily connect with Alan as a trans boy). Protags are twins who are both GNC (brother wants to be a wizard).
"Magic's Pawn," by Mercedes Lackey. Not explicitly marketed as YA, but the protagonist is a queer teen living in a fairly hostile medievalist world. It's a deeply melancholy series (poor Vanyel), but it was one of the first times I ever read same-sex desire in YA-fantasy.
"Pawn of Prophecy," by David Eddings. Not explicitly YA--the narrator is a bit distant--but it focuses on Garion as a tween/teen in a medievalist world that's critical of both feudalism and other high fantasy texts. It has a "YA" feel even if the focalizing is ambiguous.
"Hexwood," by Diana Wynne Jones. Middle-grade retelling of Merlin's story, set in a mixture of modern Earth and far-flung space. Like all books by DWJ, so subtle and sharp that when it does come together, it's like a symphony ("Fire and Hemlock" also features Tam Lin)
Also "The Merlin Conspiracy," featuring Roddy as an enchantress who inherits her magical knowledge from a disabled Iron Age witch (through a system of flowers--it's brilliant). Features a roaming court that is always going on "progress," as well as a dyslexic character.
"Hild," by Nicola Griffith (swoon). A re-telling of the life of Hilda of Whitby, with a thoroughly-researched look at Early Medieval society. Nice change from books set in the High Middle Ages. Features queer characters and a hero who totally defies conventions.
"The Sword of Summer" + Magnus Chase series by Rick Riordan. Retelling of Norse myths for YA/middle-grade audience. Unsurprisingly dark, given the mythic source material, but with some funny bits as well. Love the idea of Valhalla as a hotel.
"In Other Lands," by Sarah Rees Brennan. Snarky queer protagonist, medievalist portal fantasy, satire of high fantasy tropes in DWJ style, lovely artwork. Elliot is a charming, prickly, devastating character who captured my heart & the book asks tough questions about the genre.
Not a book, but both "Disenchanted" and "She-Ra" are also medievalist coming-of-age stories: one deals with a princess in a crypto-Arthurian world, and the other deals with a techno-medievalist society whose hero is more or less Arthurian.
"Historia del Rey Transparente" (Story of the Transparent King), by Rosa Montero. Features Leola, a medieval teen who disguises herself to become a knight. This novel has everything: troubadours, eunuchs, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and realistic depictions of knighthood.
"Once and Future," by Amy Capetta and Cori McCarthy. Retelling of the Morte D'Arthur in space (through the lens of T.H. White). Queer and nonbinary characters, Ari/Arthur is a woman of color, Kay has 2 moms, Guinevere has a SPACE CASTLE. Please read it immediately.
I still haven't read "The Guinevere Deception," by Kiersten White but it looks great and seems to riff on the Guinevere Twin story in the Vulgate.
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