Reset! The Imprisoned Princess Dreams of Another Chance!, Vol. 2

By Kei Misawa and poporucha. Released in Japan as “Torawareta Ōjo wa Nido, Shiawasena Yume o Miru” on the Shōsetsuka ni Narō website. Released in North America by Cross Infinite World. Translated by Evie Lund.

This author is very good at making the reader feel tension because something has not happened. For the most part, through about three-quarters of this book, Reset feels like the 2nd book in a two-part series. Annabel is invited to the country where Prince Daniel, her husband from her past life, is from. But… he seems fine? If a little wary. There’s also Princess Karina, the woman who destroyed Annabel’s life and had her thrown in prison. But… she’s sweet and nice? Something screwy’s going on here, and it likely has to do with the sullen, taciturn mage that Karina drags around with her. But it’s OK, because everything gets resolved in the end… well, sort of. The resolution feels rather off. And wait, there’s still how many pages of book left? And then we reach the final chapter, and you realize no, this is going to be a three-parter, and everything goes to hell in a handbasket.

The intriguing plot does help to cover up the author’s weakness, with is character. As I said in my review of the first book, Annabel is an interesting character to read because, if you’ll pardon the expression, she’s not like those other reincarnated villainess girls. Annabel is not a villainess, of course. She’s not trying every hour of every day to avoid her fate – months go by between chapters with not much happening. She isn’t even oblivious to the affection of everyone around her – this is very much a one-couple romance. We the reader figure out what’s actually happening before she does, which works, as it’s fun to watch her slowly realize that the Princess Karina that she knows is no longer herself. That said… she’s a bit generic? As is her boyfriend Ed, who also feels fairly standard.

Then we get the interesting bits, which are interesting because they grate against the reader’s sensibilities. The actual villain of the piece gets a backstory that talks about how she was taken from her people and forced to be a mage, and that her people later completely vanished. The response from the royalty of the kingdom seems to be “Hrm, well, not entirely accurate but yes, somewhat accurate, we’ll try to do something about it”, and we learn that she has essentially been abused her entire life. This makes her fate rather tragic… except the way it happens is so open-ended that the reader just goes, “And? AND?!?!” It’s like waiting for the other shoe to drop, only it takes sixty years. There’s a happily ever after! Annabel and Ed marry and have kids! Annabel dies at a ripe old age! And then we find out what the villain ACTUALLY did, and man, I want to read Book 3 now.

Alas, I will have to wait a few months. Still, Reset is a very good combination of typical characters and not so typical plot, and I hope Annabel can muddle her way through into finding happiness. Again.

Reset! The Imprisoned Princess Dreams of Another Chance!, Vol. 1

By Kei Misawa and poporucha. Released in Japan as “Torawareta Ōjo wa Nido, Shiawasena Yume o Miru” on the Shōsetsuka ni Narō website. Released in North America by Cross Infinite World. Translated by Evie Lund.

If Japanese light novels are good at anything, they’re good at “take a premise and do slight variations on it for years”. As such, it can sometimes be very hard to read a book without thinking of that OTHER book you just read. Three are few readers who will pick this book up and not think “huh, this sounds just like Tearmoon Empire”, a series that also has a princess who is imprisoned end up traveling backwards in time to when she’s a child and trying to fix things so that she doesn’t die. Fortunately, the two books do not take the same approach. Reset is not a comedy, for one, and everyone pretty much sees our heroine accurately for who she is: a spoiled young princess who was sheltered her whole life and is now trying to be a slightly less sheltered young princess and not always achieving it. Mostly this succeeds, though there is one major head slapping moment towards the end.

Annabel is the princess of a country called Najir, and has recently married Daniel, the prince of a neighboring country. Unfortunately, one day he shows up furious, accuses her of betraying him, and she in thrown into the dungeons. If only she knew why this happened – she has no idea. What’s worse, her knight and protector Ed is brutally beaten and killed, causing her latent magic (which she’s never been able to use) to explode, destroying a huge chunk of the castle. Then… she wakes up as a twelve-year-old. Now she has to figure out how to change the future. But she doesn’t have a magical diary to help her, or any clue whatsoever. She’ll have to rely on the natural intelligence of a young girl who was home tutored her entire life and rarely left the castle till the day she died. This will go well!

The book’s chief strength is also its chief weakness, which is Annabel herself. She’s not from Japan, she’s not a reincarnation, and she’s not remotely snarky or sarcastic. She is an innocent lamb who is trying her best to figure out how she got from what seemed like a happy and loving marriage to “you are evil and I am imprisoning you”. She decides that ‘sheltered’ is the thing to work on first, so leans on her family to allow her to go to the same school as her older brother. From here she tries to activate her still latent magic (which does not go well most of the book), tries to research the neighboring country to figure out why they did this to her, and also falls in love with Ed, who is also in her school, and is quietly wonderful. Unfortunately, while less sheltered, she is still naive as heck, so there is a scene where, searching for an important item she lost, she allows two men to lead her down a dark alley and try to sell her to pimps. It’s such a jaw-droppingly stupid moment you want to scream. Yes, it’s there for plot reasons so she can activate her magic, but man alive, there must have been a better way.

This is a series still being written, so I’m not sure when we’ll get the next volume. Certainly the main problem has not been solved. Still, if you like Peggy Sue stories (called yarinaoshi loop stories in Japan, thank you, helpful afterword), this should entertain, though be aware that Annabel is very, very “young naive princess”.