Reset! The Imprisoned Princess Dreams of Another Chance!, Vol. 1

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.

If Japanese light novels are good at anything, they’re good at “take a premise and do slight variations on it for years”. As such, it can sometimes be very hard to read a book without thinking of that OTHER book you just read. Three are few readers who will pick this book up and not think “huh, this sounds just like Tearmoon Empire”, a series that also has a princess who is imprisoned end up traveling backwards in time to when she’s a child and trying to fix things so that she doesn’t die. Fortunately, the two books do not take the same approach. Reset is not a comedy, for one, and everyone pretty much sees our heroine accurately for who she is: a spoiled young princess who was sheltered her whole life and is now trying to be a slightly less sheltered young princess and not always achieving it. Mostly this succeeds, though there is one major head slapping moment towards the end.

Annabel is the princess of a country called Najir, and has recently married Daniel, the prince of a neighboring country. Unfortunately, one day he shows up furious, accuses her of betraying him, and she in thrown into the dungeons. If only she knew why this happened – she has no idea. What’s worse, her knight and protector Ed is brutally beaten and killed, causing her latent magic (which she’s never been able to use) to explode, destroying a huge chunk of the castle. Then… she wakes up as a twelve-year-old. Now she has to figure out how to change the future. But she doesn’t have a magical diary to help her, or any clue whatsoever. She’ll have to rely on the natural intelligence of a young girl who was home tutored her entire life and rarely left the castle till the day she died. This will go well!

The book’s chief strength is also its chief weakness, which is Annabel herself. She’s not from Japan, she’s not a reincarnation, and she’s not remotely snarky or sarcastic. She is an innocent lamb who is trying her best to figure out how she got from what seemed like a happy and loving marriage to “you are evil and I am imprisoning you”. She decides that ‘sheltered’ is the thing to work on first, so leans on her family to allow her to go to the same school as her older brother. From here she tries to activate her still latent magic (which does not go well most of the book), tries to research the neighboring country to figure out why they did this to her, and also falls in love with Ed, who is also in her school, and is quietly wonderful. Unfortunately, while less sheltered, she is still naive as heck, so there is a scene where, searching for an important item she lost, she allows two men to lead her down a dark alley and try to sell her to pimps. It’s such a jaw-droppingly stupid moment you want to scream. Yes, it’s there for plot reasons so she can activate her magic, but man alive, there must have been a better way.

This is a series still being written, so I’m not sure when we’ll get the next volume. Certainly the main problem has not been solved. Still, if you like Peggy Sue stories (called yarinaoshi loop stories in Japan, thank you, helpful afterword), this should entertain, though be aware that Annabel is very, very “young naive princess”.

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