Taking My Reincarnation One Step at a Time: No One Told Me There Would Be Monsters!, Vol. 4

By KAYA and Naru. Released in Japan as “Tensei Shōjo wa Mazu Ippo kara Hajimetai: Mamono ga Iru toka Kiitenai!” by MF Books. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Amy Osteraas.

I am frequently proved wrong when I write reviews of light novels, but it’s rare I’m proven this wrong this fast. Last volume I wondered if we could get a bit more of happy, joyful Sara because I was annoyed with cranky, grouchy Sara. I am prepared to do a complete 180 – after this volume, I think the reason I find Sara most interesting is because she’s always so bitter about everything. First of all, it helps to differentiate her as a character from various other plucky young girls who were reincarnated and now have massive amounts of power in their adorable teenage bodies, and secondly because it’s not really tied into her past life in Japan. We know she spent most of it sick, and that is why she seems to find such joy in seemingly normal things in this world (like the butterflies), but the cranky “why are you telling me what to do/including me in your drama?” is entirely her own self, and it’s just fun.

Sara, Allen, Nelly and Chris are headed towards Nelly’s hometown to get Nelly’s family to become Sara’s guardian, so that she is less likely to be forcibly abducted by the knights. On their way there, they come across a village dealing with an infestatio0n of seven-colored swallowtails, a butterfly monster whose skin can cause paralysis when touched. When they arrive in Hydrangea, Nelly’s hometown, there is some predictable family stuff, and we learn that Nelly is basically exactly what we guessed she was, but their dungeon is also having a swallowtail infestation. In addition, Sara seems to have finally realized that when she’s not being pushed into it by anyone, she really DOES want to be an apothecary, so she starts learning basic things at the guild -her education with Chris having been erratic, to say the least.

One source of Sara’s constant simmering annoyance is the fact that everyone is trying to decide her future for her, be it passively or actively. Chris, of course, wants her to be an apothecary, and that’s one reason she took so long to decide she actually likes doing that. Nelly and Allen want her to be a hunter, since she’s got fantastic power and ability for it, but, as we see in possibly the best scene in the book, she simply doesn’t have the stomach for it – she can’t kill off monsters like it’s a game, she sees them as living creatures who don’t deserve to die. I loved her delight at seeing hellhounds in Hydrangea’s dungeon, essentially putting them on the same level as her wolves from back home. Speaking of home, it’s interesting to hear that the ‘Dark Mountain” is not just a dangerous place, but a real dungeon – dungeons simply work differently in this world. So Sara was essentially reborn at the bottom of a dungeon, like a final boss. How apropos.

The cliffhanger ending of “if we can’t take her by force, we’ll take her by marriage” implies she’s going to have to go to the capital next volume, so I do not expect her snark to recede anytime soon. This remains an enjoyable reincarnation series.

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