Dahlia in Bloom: Crafting a Fresh Start with Magical Tools, Vol. 4

By Hisaya Amagishi and Kei. Released in Japan as “Madougushi Dahlia wa Utsumukanai” by MF Books. Released in North America by J-Novel Heart. Translated by Osman Wong.

If the first few books of this series are about how Dahlia is not ready to enter a new relationship so soon after the wounds of her old one, this new volume is about how she soon may not have much choice. Dahlia has rocketed to stardom almost overnight, and it’s not really a surprise that people are assuming that either a) she’s not a magical toolmaker at all but just a pretty face fronting for someone else, or b) her backers are financing her because they want access to her body. Neither one is true, of course, but you can see why someone who knows nothing about Dahlia might think that. Unfortunately, Dahlia is the sort to internalize any worries is stress that she has, so it’s very difficult to get her to kick back against this and take charge. Fortunately, when this does happen, it’s pretty awesome to watch. As for Volf, well, you get the impression that he will realize his feelings before she does, but they’re both still incredibly stubborn.

Since Dahlia is going to be selling stuff to royalty pretty soon, and Volf has frankly been avoiding interacting with them, both need a crash course in manners and etiquette. After this… and several scenes showing them eating and drinking, with a pile of descriptive pages discussing same, she’s ready to sell the new portable camp stove. She’s also figured out a way to make self-cooling fabric, which essentially runs wind through your clothing… a great boon to a town like this one where all the clothes are heavy and stuffy. Things are looking up, and she and Volf both plan to do deeds that might net them a barony. Unfortunately, before she can sell to the Order of Beast Hunters, she needs to get the approval of the treasury, which is casting a disparaging eye upon her.

We’ve seen this before in prior books, but it’s really hammered home here: Dahlia and Volf act like they’ve been married for some time, and when you combine that with their constant refrain of “we’re just good friends”, it sends the mother of all mixed signals. That’s fine for Volf, who mostly has to deal with sudden bouts of jealousy when she’s interacting with other men, but Dahlia can still be painfully naive when it comes to how she has presented herself, and it leads to bad assumptions. Fortunately, once she starts nerding out about magical inventions, no one can really doubt she is the genius she says she is. She’s also getting better at asking for help, and we meet another guild whose leader might become a regular in the future… provided he does not drug Ivano again. Honestly, Dahlia’s barony is likely going to happen sooner rather than later… and I get the feeling it may screw up any relationship between her and Volf rather than help it.

This was a very strong volume in the series, one of the better fantasies for female readers J-Novel Club is putting out. Its magic system is similar to others (slimes, etc.) without feeling like an RPG, and the leads are terrific. More, please.

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