By Shusui Hazuki and necomi. Released in Japan as “Black Madōgushi Guild o Tsuihō Sareta Watashi, Ōkyū Majutsushi to Shite Hirowareru: White na Kyūtei de, Shiawase na Shinseikatsu o Hajimemasu! ” by SQEX Novels. Released in North America by J-Novel Heart. Translated by Mari Koch.
As we have seen a large increase in the number of light novels written for women over the last few years, we have also seen that a great deal of them tend to involve an overworked, exhausted office lady escaping the terrible job she has by getting summoned to another world, or rescued by an improbable coincidence, or even simply dying and being reborn elsewhere. The original Japanese title of this book references “black companies”, the workplaces that violate labor standards but are nevertheless there for people who desperately need jobs. That said, I’m not sure we’ve seen a power fantasy quite as blatant as the one in My Magical Career at Court, whose entire plot revolves around our underappreciated heroine getting fired by her mean bosses and then ending up with the perfect job, where she impresses literally everyone around her by being outstanding. It is a cry of freedom from the heart. Or rather, from the page.
The book starts in the first paragraph with the words “you’re fired”. Noelle lives in a backwater town, trying to live her life as a mage, even in a job she’s not really suited for, because she loves magic. Sadly, her boss doesn’t really care – and is, in fact, so sadistic that he makes sure she can never get a job in the town that uses magic. Fortunately for her, she runs into Luke, her old friend and hated rival from magical school, where the two of them were constantly competing for the top spot. He’s now working for the royal court, and is delighted that he can offer her a job. As she moves to the capital and starts her new job, she is stunned at every turn by now nice everyone is, how she gets real time off and normal work hours, and how expectations for her are not ludicrous. That said… what she gives them *is* ludicrous. She’s a bit OP.
Other folks have compared this to The Sorcerer’s Receptionist a bit, and I get it, but Noelle doesn’t seem to be all that similar to Nanalie except in the fact that they both have a boyfriend/rival figure. Indeed, how much you like this book may depend on how much you can tolerate Noelle being another one of THOSE heroines, so beaten down by life that any sign of obvious affection is completely missed, and folks trying to praise her gets constantly brushed off. It’s Japanese modesty taken to an aggravating degree. That said, overall I found her a lot of fun. I was surprised at the subplot, where we see what happens to the “bad guild” after she leaves. I’m so used to the sorts of stories where everyone is so evil they’re disgraced and end up dying a coward’s death, but no… the end goal of this story is that the old bosses see what Noelle is really like and regret that they let her go so easily. That’s it. In the end, this really is an office lady revenge story, it’s just the revenge is “I am happy now, ha ha ha”.
This has a second volume, which I will check out, but also feels pretty complete in one book, despite the romantic subplot slamming against Noelle’s heroic self-deprecation. Recommended for those in a bad job who like to fantasize.