By Otaku de Neet and Kurodeko. Released in Japan as “Watashi wa Futatsume no Jinsei wo Aruku!” by SQEX Novels. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Andrew Schubauer.
Frequently we find that we, as readers, do not want what the author, as a writer, is writing. This is especially true as the series goes on. Any glance at AO3 fanfiction will see a graveyard of incredibly popular fanfics that got abandoned because the author got very angry at the source material. As such, I should not be annoyed that a romance novel turned out to end with a romance novel ending. But I am, a bit. It doesn’t help that even the author kind of realizes that this is the wrong move, with everyone second guessing the big reveal and wondering if it might have been better just to let Heath stay a squire after all. Oh yes, and there’s the fact that this book came out four years after the others and with a different publisher. We should probably be grateful we got anything at all, but what we got is… well, somewhat less than satisfying.
For those who may have forgotten what’s been happening, Heath is the disguised Princess Fie, training as a squire and hanging out with her buddies. There’s fighting! There’s circuses! But then, right as she is jumping through a hoop of REAL FIRE in an effort to create a circus of their own, the kingdom’s chancellor happens to be walking by… and recognizes her. That’s it, she’s toast. That said, at least she’s not exiled to the cottage of starvation any more, and everyone lines up to apologize to her, from the King to her sister (yes, we finally meet her sister). Unfortunately, there’s a slight problem, which is that Fie has been dating Queen, and now she can’t. This will require strategy, as well as a long think to try to figure out if she actually is in love.
This reminded me a bit of Bloom Into You as well, as we get a “will they make a character who doesn’t really get love or romance asexual?…no, they won’t” sort of vibe to it. That said, this mostly feels like a book trying to do too much. We get separate subplots explaining Fie’s sister (who is in love with a Prince from a different kingdom) and King Roy (who is trying to be a good king but his desire to completely avoid women has led to tremendous problems. But, again, the main issue is that this is the story of a woman who empowers herself and goes out to create her own life and career… and in the end finds that she can’t actually do that, so resolves to become a wife and mother. Queen gets to be a knight, though. It’s not that badly written, and Fie is still a great character to read about, but it feels like we made the wrong choice and got the bittersweet ending in a visual novel.
Perhaps this will inspire someone to write a fanfic where Heath isn’t caught and becomes a knight? Mmmmmm… probably not. But, again, authors should not call attention to the bad choices they’ve made by having other characters saying “maybe this was a bad choice”.