Dahlia in Bloom: Crafting a Fresh Start with Magical Tools, Vol. 1

y Hisaya Amagishi and Kei. Released in Japan as “Madougushi Dahliya wa Utsumukanai” by MF Books. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Nikolas Stirling.

Just as there are people who can read an isekai and somehow be surprised that our generic-looking male protagonist ends up with overpowered abilities and women falling all over him, there are presumably people who can be surprised that a romance novel has romance in it. To an extent, I get it. This book is supposedly about a woman, jilted by her fiancee on the day before their wedding, starting anew and devoting herself to her job. You can hear readers all over the world saying “Yeah! Kick ass in your profession, Dahlia! You don’t NEED romance!”. They are bound to be a tad annoyed that the majority of the rest of the book involves her meeting and going on not-dates with a knight whose tragic flaw is that he is simply TOO HANDSOME. That said… come on. This is a romance novel. It even has an extended makeover section where we get to see how gorgeous our mousey heroine really is once she gets the right clothes and makeup. If you accept that, it’s great.

Dahlia is, by the way, a reincarnated Japanese woman who died at work from a heart attack, but her former life only really comes up in her job, as she’s more easily able to visualize magical tools due to her experience with hair dryers and Coleman stoves. She grows up in fantasy world with her dad, who also makes magical tools, and is engaged to his apprentice. Things go great (well, aside from her dad’s death) till the day before the marriage, when her fiance says he’s in love with another woman, so can they not get married? Oh, and he wants to keep the house they bought. She’s stunned, but not as devastated as she expected to be, and she gradually realizes she was never in love with him. She decides to throw all her energy into her business, helped along by most of the rest of the town, who are on her side. Then she meets Volf, the aforementioned knight with golden eyes who can’t walk through the town without starting a fight over him, and who can’t keep friends. Fortunately, both he and Dahlia are on the same wavelength, and both decide to forego romance and stay as drinking buddies. And boy, can they drink. But how long will this last?

Dahlia’s ex, Tobias, is almost cartoonishly awful, not actually evil but such a dimbulb who is lost in the thrall of puppy love that he loses any ability to think – as his older brother hammers into him near the end of the book. Your jaw drops at the callous shit he says to Dahlia, who has also been deliberately making herself dowdy so that other men won’t look at her. Needless to say, he barely recognizes the beautiful redhead she becomes. As for Dahlia herself, she’s great, and her work ethic really is a major part of the book, don’t worry. In fact, it might be a little TOO strong – she tells a story about an accident with black slime where she had to go get healed, and Volf realizes in horror she had melted her hands down to the bone without realizing it. I think we know why she may have overworked herself to death in Japan…

So yes, good book, but don’t be surprised when Dahlia and Volf decide they do love each other after all in the next volume or so. It is still genre fiction.

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