By You Fuguruma and Nama. Released in Japan as “Kasei Madoushi no Isekai Seikatsu: Boukenchuu no Kasei Fugyou Uketamawarimasu!” by Ichijinsha Bunko Iris NEO. Released in North America by J-Novel Heart. Translated by Hengtee Lim.
I remember thinking after finishing the first volume of Housekeeping Mage that it was a lot darker than I had really expected. But I noted in my review that the story did its level best to try to have the trauma and abuse of our heroine be in the past so that it could be a cute romantic novel. That said… there is still the past trauma and abuse, and that comes to the fore here in the second volume, where we go into more detail about Shiori’s struggles after being isekai’d to this world (we still don’t know the reason) and we go into much greater detail about her time with her previous party, who were all such good kids… AT FIRST. And, well, bad things happen to her here as well. It’s just volume 2, so I’m OK with this, and it’s quite well written. I do hope we’ve sort of turned a corner, though. It can be cathartic but also exhausting to read.
As Alec and Shiori return from visiting Rurii’s family, they are beset upon by a snow wolf. And then, later on, three snow wolves. This is very unusual, they tend not to attack humans without a reason. They then arrive at a nearby village and find the reason, which leads to a huge battle between 60-70 wolves and only a few knights and adventurers. Unfortunately, during this, Shiori is badly injured, and this triggers memories of her past adventure party, to the point where she’s almost delirious with fear that Alec will abandon her. From this we also learn about how her party self-destructed so badly, and who was the mastermind behind it. Oh yes, there’s also a torture brothel involved. That said, this *is* still a romance, and by the end of the book Alec and Shiori are essentially a couple, and resolving to reveal to each other their secret backstories.
I am slightly optimistic that the worst of this is behind us, mostly because the narrative makes it textually clear. By the end of the main story, Shiori’s old diary detailing her travails since arriving in this world up to her abandonment has been burned, and the records showing exactly who was behind everything and why have also been burned, thus literally allowing her to start over fresh. Not admittedly there’s still Alec’s past, which is also touched upon here, and we also don’t know the reason she’s even here at all. But the summary of the next volume, while it implies bad things will be happening, at least says they’ll be fresh new bad things. And the romance between Alec and Shiori really is sweet. I could have done without the brothel subplot entirely, though, to be fair, which mostly seems to be there to show off what a bad guy the bad guy was.
So yes, I’m going to be reading more. I like the leads, I like Shiori’s slime, I like the supporting cast who aren’t evil, and honestly the ones who were evil are all dead now. Let’s hopefully move on.