I’ll Never Set Foot in That House Again!, Vol. 3

By Milli-gram and Yuki Kana. Released in Japan as “Nidoto ie ni wa Kaerimasen!” by Overlap Novels f. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Emily Hemphill.

There is one, brief shining moment in the third volume of this very sweet and also very dull series where I was engaged and interested, and (as with the second volume) it’s where we are reminded of the past that Chelsea has had. About halfway through this third volume a group of kidnappers enter the mansion of her friend and hold them hostage. After the situation is resolved (there’s really no suspense at all), Glen talks to Chelsea about why she wasn’t scared, and she reveals that she was fine once she knew there would be no pain, because it was the physical abuse that was the worst part of her old life. Chelsea casually talking about getting whipped on a near daily basis is jaw-dropping, mostly as she now possesses a defensive barrier and can literally create massive Venus Flytrap monsters to eat her enemies within seconds. She’s come a long way, and while I’m happy for her as a person, it damages the book.

Glen has proposed to Chelsea, and she’s now actually looking her age (though whether she acts it is in question), but we still have a few hoops to jump through before they can marry, and not just “wait till she gets older”. First she needs to make her debut in society, and that means gowns! It also means meeting the Queen, who thinks Chelsea is adorable and cute and also treats her like a Barbie doll whose clothes get changed 6 times a day. And she gets a new friend… almost by force… in Noel, a young noble who is enthusiastic about gardening and plants and therefore is very eager to talk with someone who knows her stuff. Unfortunately, as I noted above, there’s the break-in and hostage situation. And it turns out that the people trying to kill Chelsea, who we met in the previous book, are still trying to kill Chelsea. Can she survive to her engagement ceremony?

I mean, yes. She can create anything in the entire world from seeds as long as she can visualize it. She has a personal defensive barrier. She has an army of soldiers ready to defend her. And now she’s creating monsters to eat her enemies. She has maids who love her, a cook who not only loves to feed her (and she can finally actually eat meals now that she’s no longer being starved to death) but can also interrogate enemies with her own special magic, her research team, her cool older brother, and of course Glen, who adores and wants to protect her. There’s an after story where she and Glen go to his home and discover that the enemy is a giant crab, but once Chelsea is there she creates a trap (with a seed, natch) and the problem is solved.

You know what this series needs? Fagin. No, not the anti-semitism, but Chelsea is like Oliver Twist if he was rescued from the orphanage by Mr. Brownlow and the rest of the series was just meals and clothes. Chelsea desperately needs to be lured into evil or spirited away. Not because of her as a character – she’s a sweet girl, I don’t want bad things to happen to her. But for me, as a reader? Yes, I want bad things to happen to her.

I’ll Never Set Foot in That House Again!, Vol. 2

By Milli-gram and Yuki Kana. Released in Japan as “Nidoto ie ni wa Kaerimasen!” by Overlap Novels f. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Emily Hemphill.

Reading this immediately after The Saint’s Magic Power Is Omnipotent was probably a mistake, as the two series share much in common. At least the Saint is in her thirties, though. Chelsea’s age and emotional innocence are still front and center in this book, and it can sometimes be discomfiting. The complains once or twice about being treated like a child, but, well, she’s twelve, and honestly acts like she’s six much of the time. What matters most to her are Glen and delicious food, possibly not in that order. And, of course, she has a heart as big as the world and wants to save everyone. In a non-fantasy world she’d be a perfect magical girl candidate – heck, she even looks a bit like Madoka – but here it’s easy for her to be coddled. She’s protected at all times by Glen, ends up getting a new head chef, and a new set of bodyguards once Glen – who is a good 8-10 years older than she is – proposes. So yeah. Anyway, about the rest of the book…

Most of the book involves a journey to a neighboring kingdom, which is definitely having a miasma problem, apparently due to the fact that their new ruler has been cutting down sacred trees and other terrible things. Glen, Chelsea and company decide to see how the former ruler is doing – he’s still around, he just has a terrible mana-draining illness – and Chelsea being essentially a walking plot device, this is soon resolved and he returns to the throne. That said, there are a few hints that there are greater things going on here – the horrible ruler turns out to have been slightly brainwashed by a mysterious fortune teller, who turns out to be working for someone who really, really hates Chelsea – no one is quite sure why. Is this going to be the end of her slow, pampered lifestyle? I mean, no, probably not.

I won’t begrudge Chelsea having a pleasant experience with one the occasional “I did too much and passed out” to worry about, she’s had a rough life and deserves happiness after so long, but it does make the book a bit dull at times. I was amused at her grandparents’ description of Chelsea’s mother – they’re polar opposites – as well as Chelsea’s poleaxed reaction to it. The book also continues to make very light usage of its big clever idea – that Glen is an isekai’d from Japan prince – and we find the former ruler of the other kingdom, a dragon man, is also a forner Japanese person now in a fantasy world body, which leads to some amusing discussion of – as always – how to get miso in a fantasy world. That said, this also means that when Glen proposes to Chelsea he’s called a lolicon… which, well, she’s twelve. At least it doesn’t appear they’ll actually get married till she comes of age.

So yeah, like the first book, this is hit or miss for me – a bit more miss this time – but it’s still warm and fluffy at heart. Also like the first book, I assumed this second volume would be the end of the series, but there’s apparently a third volume out in Japan next month. Recommended for those who love waifs – no, not waifus, waifs.

I’ll Never Set Foot in That House Again!, Vol. 1

By Milli-gram and Yuki Kana. Released in Japan as “Nidoto ie ni wa Kaerimasen!” by Overlap Novels f. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Emily Hemphill.

I’m going to be honest, this book is all over the place. Featuring a relatively nuanced portrayal of a heroine who’s recovering from horrible abuse, it has especially un-nuanced portrayals of the abusers. There’s a terrific surprise involving the hero, but it’s also contrasted with the fact that (per the afterword) the author aged him up after seeing the artwork but didn’t bother to age up the heroine, making for a very uncomfortable romance. And of course the heroine’s powers are especially overpowered even for this sort of book, with the question of “what can she create?” becoming a bar that gets raised higher and higher till the answer is “pretty much anything”. That said, I get the feeling none of this matters. This book gives you a girl you desperately want to hug, and then spends 160 pages hugging her. It’s the very definition of “D’aww”, and if that means putting up with some flaws, it’s OK because look, she’s eating sweets!

Chelsea is the daughter of a baron, but you’d never know it from her everyday life. She’s forced to do the housework, belittled and verbally abused by her mother and twin sister, and whipped when she does things wrong. She has to live off of scraps left after everyone else eats! What’s more, it’s totally unclear why this is the case. Then one day an “appraiser” shows up to see what the other daughter’s magic talents are, and they also know of Chelsea and appraise her. Turns out that Chelsea has a new skill, “Seed Creation”, that has never been seen before! Now she’s whisked off to the royal residence to see what her new skill can do (spoiler: a lot) and to be pampered and cared for as she never was before. As Chelsea slowly gets better and grows in self-confidence, and despite her fears that once they’ve appraised her, she’ll be sent back, she gradually realizes (say it with me) she’ll never set foot in that house again.

I noted on Twitter that this book had the subtlety of an icepick to the forehead, and I stand by that. That said, its portrayal of Chelsea is definitely the highlight. She’s beaten and shattered by the abuse she’s suffered, and it takes the entire book for her to even begin to stand up for herself and make her own decisions. This is, admittedly, helped by this being a world of magic, but even then, while they can heal her scars and stop her “emaciated” status effect, she still can’t really eat much at first. The hero, Glen, is more typical of these sorts of books, and has two big secrets, one of which is not really that much of a surprise, but the other one is, and it’s handled quite well, which is to say it’s barely mentioned. Sadly, as I noted before, making him older means the romantic feelings he starts to have for 12-year-old Chelsea come off as far skeevier than I would like – fortunately nothing is going on as of yet.

This also shares another fault with many shoujo light novels we’ve seen recently: it feels like it’s a one-shot, but there’s a second volume out. I’m not sure where the book is going to go, especially with a title that will likely seem out of place given, well, problem solved. That said, if it has hugs, cute dresses, and yummy sweets, I’ll probably be reading more.