The Apothecary Witch Turned Divorce Agent, Vol. 1

By Kosuzu Kobato and Yasuyuki Syuri. Released in Japan as “Kusushi no Majo Desu ga, Nazeka Fukugyō de Rikon Daikō Shiteimasu” by DRE Novels. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Satoko Kakihara.

I have a type, it has to be said. OK, I have several types. But one of those types is essentially Carla, the heroine of this novel, and as such I love it to bits, possibly a bit more than it deserves. When I first saw the title scroll by at Anime NYC last year I got excited, because it sounded similar to Dahlia in Bloom, where we go after various asshole fiancés and take them to the cleaners. Then I read the summary and was less excited, because they all kept getting back together in the end, making this a much lighter and softer book than I’d expected. But then it turned out that I feel the same way that Carla does. Given her apothecary is failing, all she has left is this side job of hers. She wants to make it a success. So why is it, every single time, everyone ends up happily in love?

Carla is a witch. Orphaned at a young age, she was taken in by an old witch and taught the basics of magic. She’s very good at cultivation and transformation magic. Unfortunately, all of her oral medicines have terrible side effects. As such, after her teacher’s death, the apothecary is doing terrible business, basically surviving on ointments and deodorizers… as well as her side job. She is asked to help a woman break up with her husband, who is ignoring her. Using transformation magic, she pretends to be the wife and confronts the husband. But it’s all just bad communication! Now they’re in love again. Carla is now the go-to person for wives who are dealing with terrible men. Sadly, all the men aren’t terrible and they get back together! Why is Carla so bad at BOTH jobs?

So first and foremost, if you are not a fan of two characters sniping constantly at each other, and this being interpreted as flirting by everyone else, get another book. Carla and her not-love interest, the knight Thane, immediately fall into banter that does not go away. (Gintama fans will also raise an eyebrow at the “It’s not *you*, it’s Carla!” running gag.) Carla herself is enormous fun, as despite her businesses both failing she’s actually a really good witch, and also good at knowing when to take action and when to just let people pour their hearts out at her while she stands there silently. The wannabe divorcees in question are of the usual variety – the husband is shy and was raising money for a demonstrative gesture, the prince was trying to protect the woman he loves by being cruel to her, etc. Actually, the main flaw of the book may be that everything is a bit too pat and predictable. But I don’t care, I want to read more of Carla being blunt and straightforward.

This is an author we’ve seen before – I’d Rather Have a Cat Than a Harem – and will again – Making Jam in the Woods just got licensed. And the illustrator is also known, as The Saint’s Magic Power Is Omnipotent is from the same artist. So this won’t be the most original thing ever. But in the end, it did live up to the overinflated expectations I had of it at Anime NYC, mostly due to Carla.

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