By Kei Misawa and poporucha. Released in Japan as “Torawareta Ōjo wa Nido, Shiawasena Yume o Miru” on the Shōsetsuka ni Narō website. Released in North America by Cross Infinite World. Translated by Evie Lund.
This author is very good at making the reader feel tension because something has not happened. For the most part, through about three-quarters of this book, Reset feels like the 2nd book in a two-part series. Annabel is invited to the country where Prince Daniel, her husband from her past life, is from. But… he seems fine? If a little wary. There’s also Princess Karina, the woman who destroyed Annabel’s life and had her thrown in prison. But… she’s sweet and nice? Something screwy’s going on here, and it likely has to do with the sullen, taciturn mage that Karina drags around with her. But it’s OK, because everything gets resolved in the end… well, sort of. The resolution feels rather off. And wait, there’s still how many pages of book left? And then we reach the final chapter, and you realize no, this is going to be a three-parter, and everything goes to hell in a handbasket.
The intriguing plot does help to cover up the author’s weakness, with is character. As I said in my review of the first book, Annabel is an interesting character to read because, if you’ll pardon the expression, she’s not like those other reincarnated villainess girls. Annabel is not a villainess, of course. She’s not trying every hour of every day to avoid her fate – months go by between chapters with not much happening. She isn’t even oblivious to the affection of everyone around her – this is very much a one-couple romance. We the reader figure out what’s actually happening before she does, which works, as it’s fun to watch her slowly realize that the Princess Karina that she knows is no longer herself. That said… she’s a bit generic? As is her boyfriend Ed, who also feels fairly standard.
Then we get the interesting bits, which are interesting because they grate against the reader’s sensibilities. The actual villain of the piece gets a backstory that talks about how she was taken from her people and forced to be a mage, and that her people later completely vanished. The response from the royalty of the kingdom seems to be “Hrm, well, not entirely accurate but yes, somewhat accurate, we’ll try to do something about it”, and we learn that she has essentially been abused her entire life. This makes her fate rather tragic… except the way it happens is so open-ended that the reader just goes, “And? AND?!?!” It’s like waiting for the other shoe to drop, only it takes sixty years. There’s a happily ever after! Annabel and Ed marry and have kids! Annabel dies at a ripe old age! And then we find out what the villain ACTUALLY did, and man, I want to read Book 3 now.
Alas, I will have to wait a few months. Still, Reset is a very good combination of typical characters and not so typical plot, and I hope Annabel can muddle her way through into finding happiness. Again.