By Ito Iino and Kinokohime. Released in Japan as “Haraiya Reijō Nicola no Komarigoto” by DRE Novels. Released in North America by J-Novel Heart. Translated by Joshua Douglass-Molloy.
I am always going to be on board with grumpy young women who are on the verge of going “tch” all the time but end up helping everyone around them anyway. It’s a type I really love, and it meant that I really loves the protagonist all through this book. It helps that she’s surrounded by other stock types. There’s the childhood friend who is so handsome that all the girls fall madly in love with him, who unfortunately only has eyes for Nicola. (She’s asked him not to go near her when anyone can see him, and to his credit he gets why and agrees.) There’s also the prince who’s seemingly casual but in reality quite a hard worker, and who loves the fact that Nicola literally gets a royal decree that she can be rude to him if she wants. In fact, I had such fun with the characters that the actual plot twist took me entirely by surprise, even though it shouldn’t have.
Nicola is, yes, reincarnated from Japan. In her previous life she could see spirits, and was taken in by a mentor to become a top-class exorcist… at least until she was sacrificed by some unknown assailant. Now she’s Nicola von Weber, a low-level noble who’s just starting at the academy. Already there, two years ahead of her, is Sieghart, who she met when they were both kids and who has attached himself to her like a lamprey. Sieghart, you see, is SO pretty that spirits haunt him constantly – and Nicola still has the exorcist powers that she had back in Japan, so she can help to, if not get rid of them, at least minimize them. Unfortunately, it turns out he’s not the only one beset by spirits, and now she has to deal with Prince Alois and his grumpy bodyguard Ernst.
First of all, a minor grump. I realize that authors and artists can’t always communicate well, but if your text constantly has Nicola be the usual “woe is me, I am so flat-chested and envy the large breasts of others”, perhaps convey that better in the art. Other than that, I love Nicola, a young woman who clearly *is* in love with the gorgeous Sieghart, but refuses to admit it to herself due to their status difference and her own stubborn embarrassment. She starts off basically thinking of herself as the only sane person surrounded by unthinking men, but as the book continues it becomes apparent that she’s the one who’s in the most danger of haring into danger at the slightest provocation. Sieghart is also well-handled, being a standard shoujo pretty boy but showing a lot more intelligence than most in that genre, as well as actual trauma from his constantly being haunted that affects a lot of the things he does.
This felt like it was written as a one-shot and then the editor demanded the ending be rewritten to allow for a continuation. Disappointing for romance fans, but I do admit I want to read more of this.