By Kanata Satsuki and Yoru Ichige. Released in Japan as “Koutei-tsuki Nyokan wa Hanayome Toshite Nozomarechuu” by Ichijinsha Bunko Iris. released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Emily Hemphill.
There are various ways to conceal things in books, and some of them are harder to pull off than others. Common in mystery stories is keeping the viewpoint character and the reader in equal ignorance, revealing things to both when the time is right. Rare is when everyone except the reader knows about something, and they all talk around the subject. Then there’s the reader knowing something that most of the cast do not – we get a bit of that here in this novel. Unfortunately, we also get “everyone else knows what the viewpoint character does not, including the reader”. This is the hardest to pull off, and the most frustrating. You start to wonder what in the world is wrong with the main character. Still, it’s not impossible. That said… and I don’t mean to spoil, but I must to a certain degree… when it turns out that a magical mind-controlling device is the reason that your cast has not noticed things that are obvious to the reader, you have a problem.
Qatora, a knight in charge of protecting the young prince and his friend, ends up sacrificing her life to save the latter, falling into the “Light of Origin”, a seemingly religious artifact. Reincarnated in a different country several years into the future, she is Lyse, the daughter of a baron, who tries her best to fit in in this country where being strong as an ox and good with a sword is NOT appreciated in its young ladies. She’d much rather be back in the Empire, but knows the secret of the Light of Origin after falling into it, so avoids the country. Then one day the Emperor and his retinue pay a visit to their land, and she’s chosen to not only be Lady-in-Waiting to the Emperor, but also fiancee to his knight, Sidis, who seems mysteriously fascinated with her. Oh, and did I mention that the Emperor is… slowly tuning into a dog? Lyse is going to need strength and smarts to get out of this dilemma.
The author of this series also writes I Refuse to Be Your Enemy!, which I highly recommend, but I found myself struggling to get into this new series of hers. It is very clear to the reader from the start who Sidis really is, and hearing “but that can’t be, he doesn’t have blond hair” over and over is frustrating. Likewise, the villain of the piece is about as subtle as a boot to the head, to the point where there is literally a mind-controlling device meant to convince people that ISN’T what it is. I also wish we got to see a bit more of Lyse’s past abilities – she’s known as the “boar-killer”, but we don’t SEE that, and mostly she just kicks a lot of guys. (Who, admittedly, deserve it.) On the plus side, the Emperor and his ongoing problems are amusing enough, and Sidis makes for a good love interest, though again, you get the sense that Lyse is not interested in him because the writer doesn’t want her to be yet more than anything else. She needs to pick up on things better.
The book also feels complete at one volume, which is unfortunate as the series is at least four books in Japan. If you really enjoy romantic fantasies, give this a try, but honestly you’d be better off with I Refuse to Be Your Enemy!.