Tag Archives: fantasy

My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! #4 (Light Novel)

Title: My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! #4

Author: Satoru Yamaguchi

Format: Light Novel

Keith has gone missing, and Katarina is convinced it’s all her fault. Rallying together a small team to go in search of him, she, Maria, Sora (Rufus), Jeord, and Larna set off to pursue him. To those who know the truth, this is more serious—Keith has been kidnapped, and with no demand for a ransom, it doesn’t look like his captors mean to return him . . .

This book is significantly darker than any of the previous. Although I feel compelled to point out this is the third book in a row that uses kidnapping as a major plot point (please do something different next time), it also differs in that the kidnappers this time are determined to hurt him significantly. So the stakes are higher.

Moments of comedy do surface fairly regularly, though, as Katarina is still prone to doing whatever catches her fancy. I also appreciated Raphael’s distressed office work segments (and how he makes a certain someone take responsibility for his actions).

Once again, Katarina’s potential love interests spend most of their time trying to sabotage each other. I’m warming up to Jeord more, as he feels less about cutting everyone else down and more about pursuing Katarina on his own and trying to win her heart (unlike some of the others who form alliances to spy on him to intercept him). He’s still not my favorite suitor but I respect the way he does things a lot more than many of the others.

This volume sets up what looks like a new arc, with a villain who is much more evil than anyone we’ve seen so far. I’m looking forward to more stupid shenanigans from Katarina, but maybe there’s also a better plot about to surface. I rate this book Recommended.

My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! #2 (Light Novel)

Title: My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! #2

Author: Satoru Yamaguchi

Format: Light Novel

Now at the Magic Academy, which was the setting in the original game, Katarina has to be more alert than ever for the events that signal her upcoming potential Bad Ends. But even though some things are going well, a hidden character’s route may still spell her doom. . .

By this point it is completely obvious to the reader that most of Katarina’s feared Catastrophic Bad Ends are something that exist entirely in her own imaginings. But because she continues to see her friends as their game characters (and therefore “vulnerable” to falling for the actual game protagonist with only a few events), things that remind her of the game again provoke hugely disproportionate responses.

And things that don’t—such as the whole problem with Dark Magic—lead to the same mix of stupidity and kindness that baffles everyone, especially the person trying to be a villain. Anyone who expects a baseline common sense in Katarina is bound to be disappointed . . .

I do feel slightly bad for Jeord, Katarina’s fiancee. He’s probably the one suffering the most from her constantly thinking he’s the same as his game character, as she spends more time figuring out how she’ll defend herself against him and his “black heart” and trying to break their engagement rather than realizing at this point he’s willing to put his considerable talent and resources to whatever she needs. Also, despite actually having an engagement, everyone around him is doing everything in their power to break them up.

I’m also less fond of the fact that everyone Katarina’s age that she interacts with ends up wanting to marry her (guys and girls). There doesn’t seem to be anyone who just wants to be friends, so the potential love interests are skyrocketing to the point where nobody really gets any decent character development after their introduction, because at this point it’s more about their competition for her.

Things more or less wrap up at the conclusion of this volume, as Katarina has reached the end of the game’s timeline. You could stop here and the story would feel complete. I rate this book Recommended.

My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! #1 (Light Novel)

Title: My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! #1

Author: Satoru Yamaguchi

Format: Light Novel

When she was 8 years old, Katarina Claes hit her head and regained memories of a previous life—and realizes she’s reincarnated into an otome game she’d played before she died. Problem: she’s one of the villains. With nothing but death or exile in her future per the game’s plot, she prepares to face her destiny head-on and destroy all those Catastrophic Bad Ends.

I wasn’t expecting to get hooked so much by this story. Katarina is hilarious. Her belief that the game’s plot is going to work out in real life causes her to overreact to even the little things, and it also blinds her to the fact that most of those Catastrophic Bad Ends only happened because game-Katarina was a huge jerk (which is not true of her).

This is particularly evident with Keith, a boy adopted into her family. Keith locking himself in his room, by her logic, leads directly to her death or exile, and that means nothing is too outrageous if she can force him to come out.

So her particular blend of kindness and idiocy manages to win over both potential enemies and people from the game that she’d never expected to meet. The overarching story is more a series of small events told from her point of view, then re-told from the other person’s. Although the retelling could do with a bit less repetition, it mostly works to showcase each character in turn.

I started reading this given news of the upcoming anime adaption, and now I can’t wait. Hopefully the show will cover this book and the next, as the first two books are currently the strongest plot arc. I rate this book Recommended.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime #7 (Light Novel)

Title: That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime #7

Author: Fuse

Format: Light Novel

Now that Rimuru has become a demon lord, he’s busier than ever. Setting up Tempest as a nation, dealing with international treaties and disputes, and figuring out that politics is a lot more complicated than he thought is eating up all of his time. Now that he’s on a world stage, certain other parties are trying to use him in their own schemes.

This novel definitely focuses a lot more on the worldbuilding side of things, what with the various conspiracies and manipulations fueling misunderstandings. Particularly Hinata’s misunderstandings. Although she now regrets attacking Rimuru without giving him a chance to talk, she’s aware that backtracking her earlier aggression is going to be difficult.

From Rimuru’s perspective, although he’d STILL like to talk, Hinata is strong enough to make taking every precaution possible a necessity. He believes she’s inflexible, so his best bet is to avoid her entirely while working out the rest of his plans.

Then Hinata tries to pay Rimuru a visit.

This is a solid next volume, although it also feels more like a lull after the huge events previously. Many of the conspiracies are still unfolding. Also, some of the more interesting characters like Veldora don’t get much of a chance to do anything, which will hopefully be remedied later on. I rate this book Recommended.

By the Grace of the Gods #1 (Light Novel)

Title: By the Grace of the Gods #1

Author: Roy

Format: Light Novel

Ryoma was an overworked salaryman who received an offer to be sent to another world after his unexpected death. With the support and blessing of three of the new world’s gods, he sets out to live a retirement-styled life in the woods, where his daily life consists of gathering food and researching slimes. Then an unexpected encounter with a group of people sets him on the path to rejoin the world at large.

This is a more slow-paced, slice-of-life novel, but I love it precisely because it follows the sort of man who thinks nothing of spending years by himself simply because he’s interested in what he’s doing and it never occurs to him to actually go out and do something else. He’s not exactly smart (although he’s not stupid), and his dedication to following his own interests leads him down a lot of paths ordinary people find hard to understand.

I’m also fond of his warm relationship with the various gods of his new world. They need him simply for the transfer itself, but they’re kind to him, and he appreciates that and responds to it. Ryoma also continues his relationship with them as well as he’s able once he’s given his new life, which starts gradually drawing the interest of even more of this world’s gods.

This is echoed in the kindness of the family that ends up more-or-less adopting him. Their relationship is full of misunderstandings of Ryoma being this horribly abused child (which, technically, may not entirely be wrong, but it certainly isn’t what they’re thinking), but their response to this is to support him in every way they’re able.

So if you’re in the mood for a comfy novel with a harmlessly obsessive protagonist, this is a great read. I rate this book Recommended.

Ascendance of a Bookworm: Part 2 Volume 2 (Light Novel)

Title: Ascendance of a Bookworm: Part 2 Volume 2 (Apprentice Shrine Maiden #2)

Author: Miya Kazuki

Format: Light Novel

When Myne learns her mother is pregnant, her book mania takes on a new goal: to create a picture book for her new sibling. To that end, she struggles to create ink, images, repeatable printing, and more. But while her monofocus blinds her to everything else, Ferdinand is trying to grow her into a proper blue robed shrine maiden. Because he’s aware, even if she’s not, that Myne holds much the nobility covets, and if she can’t deal with them on equal footing she’s liable to lose it all.

Ferdinand’s exasperation is one of the highlights of this novel. From Myne refusing to reduce her reading time to her musical aptitude to the way she can’t pick up on his attempts to be subtle, he’s often thrown for a loop by this precocious young girl. Her sidetracking him into a conversation about how to catalogue books of magic according to the Dewey Decimal System was a particular favorite (please revisit this in full later, author!).

I also love how Myne’s reaction to a device that can read her memories is to refuse to disconnect until she can do it again. The fact that she was told this is something used on criminals or suspected traitors is of far less importance than the ability to re-visit the books, food, and people of her previous life.

As usual, though, there are some heavier undercurrents to the slice-of-life plot. Myne doesn’t really appreciate what she means to this world at large, since her only focus is books, but Ferdinand and Benno, particularly, are aware of what she represents and are trying to corral this in more positive directions. But once Myne spectacularly blows her cover, even Ferdinand may not have the ability to protect her from what’s to come.

Overall this is another excellent continuation of the plot so far. Myne’s technological progress is offset by some social setbacks, and now that she’s being noticed by the wider world, her future is in question. I rate this book Highly Recommended.

Record of Wortenia War #4 (Light Novel)

Title: Record of Wortenia War #4

Author: Ryota Hori

Format: Light Novel

The war has changed yet again: after an unexpected surrender, and Lupis failing to bargain well for her win, Ryouma is simply left to mop up what’s left of the fighting. Of course, he’s intent on eliminating every enemy he can, which leads to an odd showdown with the man responsible for dragging him into the civil war in the first place.

This volume finally reveals more directly what’s been happening back home due to Ryouma’s disappearance. As expected, nobody quite knows what to make of someone of his size and training just up and vanishing—but his grandfather seems to have more knowledge than he should. And the twist here will be interesting to see play out in future volumes (although I really hope his grandfather’s presence manages to avoid the worst outcomes).

Like before, the war changes substantially from something that happens almost immediately: most of the opposition surrenders. The important thing to remember here is that this is a CIVIL war, which leaves most of the participants the option of trying to side with whomever they think will be the winner in an effort to minimize damages to themselves. So rather than focus on the last battle, this book is more concerned with Ryouma trying to tie up the loose ends.

It’s also interesting to me how the issue of reward was handled. Ryouma was nearly single-handedly responsible for Princess Lupis’s win, and nobody can deny that. But that poses a problem for their side, because Ryouma isn’t actually from their country, nor is he particularly interested in supporting them going forward. He’s too mercenary for their tastes. And Lupis, in listening to her own fears, is seeding the creation of the very thing she was trying to stamp out.

It felt a bit jerky to have the war spread out over so many books, but overall it’s a good arc, although probably one best read together. I rate this book Recommended.