By Haru Yayari and Fuyuki. Released in Japan as “Zombie Darake no Kusatta Sekai wo Seijo no Chikara de Jōka Shimasu!” by the author on a webnovel site. Released in North America digitally by Cross Infinite World. Translated by Charis Messier.
As the title might suggest, this novel combines zombies and “transported to another world”, two of the hottest current trends, or at least hot in 2016, when this was originally published. Unlike some of CIW’s other titles, I think this one could be marketed to both male and female readers, but the star is definitely a young girl. The first half of the book leans heavily on the zombie end of things, while the second, after the crisis is slowly being averted, feels more like an isekai proper, as Mizuha wanders around the kingdom, meets eccentric characters, etc. It’s just that the adventuring she does is zombie-purifying, that’s all. It’s also definitely a book that’s just about the right length – this is done in one, and I don’t think would make a good series. As a single volume, it’s pretty decent, with its main flaw being that ‘pretty decent’ is as far as it goes.
Given her appearance, as seen on the cover, and the fact that she uses her right hand to purify zombies, it’s hard not to think of Mizuha as the daughter of Touma and Mikoto from A Certain Magical Index. She wakes up on a deserted island surrounded by toxic, foul-smelling sludge. Even worse, a zombie emerges from said sludge and goes after her. But when she smacks its chest, the zombie turns into a handsome blond knight! It turns out that by hitting the zombies she can return them to their living selves. On a more humiliating note, her saliva can also be used to magically purify the sludge, making it water again. (This leads to the book’s running gag, with her being referred to as the “Holy Priestess of Spit”, and her despair at this title.) Escaping the island, she finds herself in a kingdom that’s overrun with zombies, and has to slowly heal each one, not get converted herself, and try to figure out how to get back home.
Mizuha is the best part of the book. She’s fun, and her narration feels, with a few exceptions, like she’s in a YA novel rather than a standard isekai light novel. She comes to terms with everything pretty quickly, bonds with the young princess who is the second zombie she saves, and theoretically falls for Lex, the young blond knight. I say theoretically as the romance feels kind of last-minute and minimal, at least on Mizuha’s end. Lex is strong and powerful but also sort of a weirdo and a dimbulb, and he would not look out of place if you handed him a Sword of Light and sent him off with Lina Inverse. The zombie sections of the book are reasonably action-packed, and there are several good laughs in here. Sometimes the book feels like a webnovel that needed more editing (Cia’s parents needed one or two more “where on earth are they?” mentions, as an example), but it holds together well.
As I said, the book’s main flaw is that there was no one scene or moment that elevated it to “OK, this just got terrific.” It’s a decent zombie novel with a fun heroine, worth your time, but it may not stick in the memory afterwards.