Housekeeping Mage from Another World: Making Your Adventures Feel Like Home!, Vol. 1

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 Elanor Sakamoto.

Sometimes, when you have a story you want to tell, you have to remember to tell it and not get distracted by other things. Indeed, sometimes the other things are completely unnecessary. You want to have an isekai with a love story between your heroine and a handsome adventurer, but urgh, isekai. That means you have to do the whole “why have you been summoned here/level up” stuff. But… do you NEED to have all that? As for your heroine, there’s a long sequence where she gets involved with the wrong party and is slowly ground down until she’s damn near suicidal. It’s needed setup for the romance to come… but do you NEED to have all that? Flashbacks are your friends! By jettisoning its tragic backstory to the very start of the book and keeping it in flashback, and by having the isekai be reduced to “it just happened, no reason”, the author of Housekeeping Mage is able to focus on telling the story they want. And that’s a good thing.

After a brief “I’m walking home from my grueling office lady job oh hey, isekai whooooosh” prologue, we meet our hero, Alec, an adventurer who’s just gotten back from a long job away from the capital. This means he has not met the capital’s new adventurer Shiori, whose magic power is minimal but who makes up for it in brilliant technique. No one is sure how she ended up there, at first unable to even speak their language. However, they know that when they take her on a multi-day quest, they get hot meals, hot baths, and reasonably soft beds, plus laundry service. Alec is, frankly, smitten pretty fast. There’s just one problem. Shiori was with a party previously who treated her like… well, like a maid, and drained her of her will to live… then abandoned her in a dungeon when forced to by greedy nobles. Frankly, Shiori has PTSD. But Alec, who has his own secret past and his own tragic backstory, wants to get to know her better anyway.

The book tries very hard to not have this be “Magical Maid”, to the point where her first party that does treat her like that are held up as the scum of the earth. (I was expecting to meet them towards the end of the book, but no, though they may show up later.) The rest of our main cast are quick to emphasize not only that what Shiori’s doing is a huge mental and physical help to adventurers, but also that it requires a fine technique that few mages possess – her mixing of different spells works for her because she DOESN’T have huge amounts of mana, those with more would likely be unable to do it. And later on she saves the day with both housekeeping knowledge AND knowledge from Japan. That said… Shiori is pretty broken in this first book. Alec realizes that, I think, and pursues her firmly but slowly, waiting for her to start to open up to him. Which she does, eventually.

There’s more of this in Japan, though as of this review the second book hasn’t begun on J-NC’s site. If you enjoy isekai written for women, or shoujo romance, this is a definite must read. It doesn’t skip the boring bits per se, but they’re shuffled to the side or left for dessert.

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