Secrets of the Silent Witch, Vol. 1

By Matsuri Isora and Nanna Fujimi. Released in Japan as “Silent Witch” by Kadokawa Books. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Alice Prowse.

A book can get away with a lot if it has a really strong main character. With that already in the bag, you can feel free to set a book at a university filled with arrogant nobles and petty bullying without worrying about the audience going “oh no, AGAIN?”. You can afford to make your love interest a sort of generic nice Prince dude who only gets vaguely interesting in the final page of the volume. You can even afford to make your book, a mystery, have an incredibly obvious villain, making the denouement a bit flat. You can do this because your main character is why everyone is going to be reading more of this. And Silent Witch (Yen On added the Secrets part, possibly to avoid a copyrighted title) is one of those series. Monica is terribly shy, terrible powerful, and most importantly terribly easy to love as a protagonist. We want to see her succeed, we want to see her very, very slowly get better at simple communication, and we want to see her kick eight kinds of ass.

Monica Everett is one of the Seven Sages, mages so powerful that they can take out a black dragon capable of destroying cities all by themselves. Unfortunately, she brings new meaning to the word “introverted”, so she normally holes up in a cabin in the middle of nowhere with only her familiar Nero for company. Then one day another of the Sages arrives and blackmails… sorry, asks Monica to help him with a task. She’s to go to Serendia Academy to be a bodyguard/minder for Prince Felix, who is currently part of a faction war regarding who will inherit the throne. The idea of going back to school (she already went to magic academy) and having to deal with people every day fills Monica with horror. But it’s probably a good thing that she’s there, as the problems at school don’t just involve magic, they involve math. Which is Monica’s other specialty.

Monica is wonderful. Prince Felix compares her multiple times to a squirrel, and you can see why. She tends to be a wreck around people, and essentially is the Silent Witch because speaking incantations out loud would be too difficult for her. But put her in front of anything to do with math or magical circles and she flips on a dime, becoming laser focused and determined to the point where you could hit her in the face with a fan and she would barely react. (Admittedly, part of that is that she doesn’t want to deal with whoever would be hitting her in the face with a fan.) I also loved Isabella, part of Monica’s cover story, who gets to play the villainous ojou-sama who bullies Monica at school and is SO HYPED, having read a ton of villainess books to bone up on this. The rest of the cast are also fun, and I look forward to Monica slowly winning them over in future books.

I think everything in this series will depend on how long Monica can keep her true identity as the Silent Witch a secret. Because I think if that gets out, several big things will happen at once. But till then, I am delighted to watch this math squirrel run through the academy of arrogant noble jerks in search of cookies and places with no other people.

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