By Maito Ayamine and Cierra. Released in Japan as “Shinigami ni Sodaterareta Shoujo wa Shikkoku no Tsurugi wo Mune ni Idaku” by Overlap Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Sylvia Gallagher.
It has become very common in novels these days, be they Japanese or no, to have something that is basically “I want to write my kind of book, but it won’t sell unless I give it the current popular gimmick”. So we get isekai economic policy books, and isekai military history books, and villainess fantasy magic battle books. Death’s Daughter and the Ebony Blade sort of falls into that category, though the genre it’s using – generally referred to as “raised by wolves” – isn’t hugely popular. The idea is that you have a protagonist who was raised by something so outside of normal humanity that they grow up to be very weird. Technically Faraway Paladin should have been this, if he hadn’t basically grown up to be Superman. But Olivia in Death’s Daughter definitely qualifies. She is described more than once as lacking in manners and common sense. But boy, she can kill people really, really well.
Three shinigami discover a baby outside of an abandoned temple, and rather than eat the baby’s delicious soul, one of them decides to try raising them as a child. Olivia gets fifteen years of combat practice, history lessons, and not much else. Then one day her mentor simply vanishes without a trace, and she goes off to look for him. Meanwhile, the Empire is battling the Kingdom, and the Empire is winning. For some reason, while searching for her shinigami dad, she decides to join the Kingdom as a soldier, something she does by going to the nearest Empire stronghold, decapitating everyone, and presenting their heads to the general. This is good enough for them, and now we watch Olivia tear her way through enemies, befriend nerdy guys who have a good eye for tactics, and try to learn what it’s like to be human.
To be honest, that last part doesn’t happen very much. The biggest flaw in this book is that Olivia does not really develop all that much as a character. Sure, she’s introduced to the wonders of soft bread and cakes, but she still does not understand how humans think, and mostly does not bother to try. I did appreciate that her aide (and oh boy, there’s an OT3 there I’d love to see but will not) is able to get her to dress up and perform basic award etiquette, but that’s about all we get. (Also, be warned, there’s a “the chest is too tight/the hips are too loose” gag here. I thought those were banned by the Geneva Convention?) The bulk of the book, though, it military combat, with the Empire gradually realizing that the tide is now turning against them, thanks entirely to the presence of Olivia cutting down most of their important generals.
This is the sort of series where I know development will be slow in coming, so I’m willing to give it more time. Olivia is fun, and I also liked Ashton and Claudia. Recommended only if you like military histories and don’t mind a lot of battle carnage, though.