By Mizue Tani and Asako Takaboshi. Released in Japan as “Hakushaku to Yōsei” by Shueisha Cobalt Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Heart. Translated by Alexandra Owen-Burns.
I was very excited when Earl and Fairy debuted from J-Novel Heart, but I will admit that I underestimated the backlash that the series got from some areas of the community. This is an old-school shoujo series, and it stars an old-school shoujo love interest. If you don’t know what that means, look up “Black Bird” or “Hot Gimmick”. Though Earl and Fairy does not go nearly as far as those two series, it is definitely in the school of romance that is “he starts off as the worst, but gradually gets better due to the influence of our heroine”. And given this is a long-running series, it’s going to be very gradual. Edgar is not going to suddenly soften up and tell Lydia his deepest secrets. Moreover, given that he thinks Lydia would be perfectly happy to walk off and never see him again, don’t expect him to stop giving affectionate overtures that may be unwelcome. That’s how these series roll. Tender romance will be along in a bit.
Lydia has been hired by Edgar as his Fairy Doctor, meaning that she’s now living in London. Of course, this being a supernatural mystery series as well as a romance, trouble is following her around. Or, more accurately, following her employer around. A young woman has disappeared, and was last seen in a carriage with none other than Edgar. There’s a bogey-beast in the vicinity, and it’s not clear who its master is. Rosalie, cousin to the missing girl, is very much attracted to Edgar, and thus very annoyed that he only seems to have eyes for Lydia. The fog, always terrible in London of vaguely Victorian times, is even worse because of the threat of the Fogman. And possibly worst of all, Lydia is finding herself wanting to get closer to Edgar, and she has absolutely no idea why.
Lydia, I will admit, does suffer from some of the worst traits of a shoujo heroine. When she blithely walks into an abandoned warehouse with a girl that she already knows is antagonistic towards her, you will want to smack your forehead. She’s no shrinking violet, but sometimes that gets her into trouble as well – her desire to take quick and decisive action is what gets her soul trapped near the climax of the book. As for her relationship with Edgar, she’s not close enough for him to open his heart to, but that also means that she’ll never take any affectionate overtures he makes seriously. Nico, Lydia’s walking, talking, sarcastic cat (just throwing that out there for those who are still on the fence about this series) tells Edgar if he wants to win Lydia over he needs to stop lying to her. Unfortunately, Edgar has been hurt so much by so many people – and had nearly everyone who trusted him die – that this may not even be possible.
To sum up” great shoujo potboiler. Lydia is naive but awesome. Have patience with Edgar. Give Nico some tea and fish.