By You Fuguruma and Nama. Released in Japan as “Kasei Madoushi no Isekai Seikatsu: Boukenchuu no Kasei Fugyou Uketamawarimasu!” by Ichijinsha Bunko Iris NEO. Released in North America by J-Novel Heart. Translated by Hengtee Lim.
Generally speaking when you get a book in the current genre of “Cinderella”, be they a villainess or just a betrayed female lead in general, the actual betrayal part is rapidly overwritten by the good stuff. Our heroine finds a new life with those who love and care about her, and finds joys that she never had in the past. And that does happen in this story as well – Shiori is extremely happy with Alec and secure in her job as a housekeeping mage. But she’s also been through not one but two traumatic, world-shattering events over the course of just a year or two, and they still impact her every day. She’s been hiding her past in Japan from everyone for the very simple reason that she can’t prove it. As for her love for Alec, and his true identity as royalty, she’s very upfront about what she wants if she is forced to leave Alec forever – the mercy of death. This book can be chilling.
There’s a new visitor to Storydia – a merchant from the East and her bodyguard. This is bad news for Shiori, who has tried to wave off her background by claiming that she comes form the East. Now that there are actual people from Mizuho here, her story is not going to hold up. Especially as she can’t read the written language they have, meaning that her last desperate hope – that she merely went back in time, and this was some unheard of historical period – is dashed to bits. After a mild nervous breakdown, she finally confesses everything to Alec and Zack, and they do believe her – even through her fears that she’ll be abandoned and left for dead, which understandably still haunt her. That said, Alec’s true past also comes out in this conversation, and now that it’s out in the open, it can’t be ignore anymore – Shiori is going to have to have conversations with the local lord. And the king.
Honestly, over the course of this volume it becomes clear that this adventurer’s guild is essentially an isle of misfit toys for nobles with tragic pasts. We already know about Alec. We’d heard about Zack earlier, but it’s fleshed out more now. And now it turns out that Nadia was meant to marry one of the older princes who ended up dying, and that Clemens was also a noble with a promising future who, after being tricked by a woman, had to flee nasty rumors in order to save his family. That said, I don’t think anyone can quite top Shiori. As I said before, having “magically transported from Japan with no language skills, money or belongings” OR having “my adventuring party/family all grew to dislike me and eventually left me to die in a dungeon” would be good enough tragic backstories. Together… look, normally I would criticize the relationship between Alex and Shiori as being too codependent to be healthy. But after this book? Heck, go nuts.
This is not quite happily ever after yet – Alec and Shoiri are together for now, and the lord approves, but there is still the King to think about. And, um, the little matter that folks are starting to consider Shiori a literal Saint. Ridiculous. Her magic power isn’t even omnipotent! In any case, this was an excellent volume in an excellent, if heavy, series.