The Inconvenient Life of an Arousing Priestess, Vol. 2

By Makino Maebaru and Hachi Uehara. Released in Japan as “Konyaku Hakida, Hatsujō Seijo” by PASH! Books. Released in North America by Cross Infinite World. Translated by Kashi Kamitoma.

I’ve said this before about books based on webnovels, but it applies especially to this volume: this book is simply too long. The digital edition is 338 pages, which is about 130 too many. Especially as a lot of this is merely going over the same ground. Monica blesses things and does spells, and they arouse her, though as the book goes on it’s becoming apparent that this is starting to only happen around Richard. She continues to assume Richard has no romantic or sexual interest in her, despite his saying “I adore you” to her face (admittedly, he is wearing a magical chastity belt for most of this volume, so it’s not entirely her being dense… just mostly). And since this volume takes place in Monica’s old country, there is a whole lot of slut shaming, evil princes, evil clergy, and the usual light novel cliches. That said, this is perfectly readable, and Monica and Richard are good characters. It’s just long.

Monica and Richard are back in Kophe. for Monica it’s a chance to help her old nation, under horrific monster attacks, and hopefully try to change their minds about the way they use priestesses. for Richard it’s mostly about crushing all those who dared to attempt to crush Monica, and he has absolutely zero desire to help anyone in the country at all… except Monica wants him to, so FINE. Unfortunately, various things get in the way. As noted, the Church want to destroy and murder Monica, and they also want to replace the King, who is not doing what they want, with the more malleable prince. The prince is still furious with Monica. And there’s a merchant, seen in the first volume but an actual character here, whose job is to make Monica doubt her relationship with Richard and remind her that he’s a prince and she’s a commoner. Can they work things out? And can Monica save the world without… well, embarrassing arousal?

My favorite part of the book may have been one of the minor villains, the unfortunately named Keunt (I wonder if the ‘e’ was added by editorial fiat), who is an aide to the evil prince and has a habit of composing the biography that will inevitably be written about him in his head. This is wonderful, especially because he is pathetic in the extreme, and any biography he gets is going to be written in crayon on a placemat. The other interesting thing in this book is Richard, who turns out to be a bit more sociopathic than some readers may be comfortable with. It’s clear that if it weren’t for his love of the pure and virtuous Monica, this book would be awash in blood. He’s also wearing, as I noted, a magical chastity belt because he wants Monica to see him as a friend rather than someone who lusts after her like all the others. This despite the fact that he really, really does lust after her. (Do they have their first time at the end of the boo? It’s ambiguous.)

I had thought this was the final volume, but the author implies there’s a third, and certainly they’re not married yet. For fans of the author.

Lovestruck Prince! I’ll Fight the Heroine for my Villainous Fiancée!, Vol. 3

By Shakushineko and Yukiko. Released in Japan as “Betabore no Kon’yakusha ga Akuyaku Reijō ni Saresō nanode Heroine gawa ni wa Sore Sōō no Mukui o Ukete Morau” by Mag Garden Novels. Released in North America by Cross Infinite World. Translated by Mittt Liu.

It makes sense that a series which I would describe in general as ‘okay, I guess” has a final volume that also can be described that way. We get a number of plotlines that can be described as “clearing up the worrying loose ends”, such as Vincent’s mother and her checkered past, as well as the facade that Vincent has been putting on around Elizabeth. There are also a few plotlines that made me smack my head and say “OK, really?”. But for the most part this book has a goal, which is getting these two shy kids married, and it proceeds to get to that goal. We even get a flash forward showing they have at least two children, which is good because I like them and they’re sweet, but also a bit annoying as it means that most of them getting over their crippling adoration of each other happens offscreen. I wanted to see the walls come down more.

We start off with one of the most cliched plots of all. Due to a magical accident brought on by an old… enemy?… of Vincent’s mother, he has lost all his memories of Elizabeth – though it’s notable that despite this, he still falls in love with her the moment he sees her. This is relatively quickly resolved, mostly as I suspect the author did not want to rebuild the wheel, but instead Vincent has the knowledge of his kingdom that he’s been learning for the past few years wiped from his memory. This is bad timing, as arriving at the kingdom as this happens is King Ricardo from the neighboring nation, who was in love with Vincent’s mother as a young man but now appears to be there to try to judge in Vincent is a good enough potential ruler. Can Vincent manage to get all his memories back and still marry Elizabeth?

There are a couple other things I want to talk about. The first is that this reminded me a bit of Accomplishments of the Duke’s Daughter, in that we get discussion of Vincent’s mother’s backstory, which sounds incredibly cool. Unfortunately, unlike Accomplishments of the Duke’s Daughter, we appear unlikely to get that story anytime soon, meaning it makes the main plot feel a bit wanting. The other thing is Raphael and Yulisse. I mentioned at the end of the first review that I found his treatment of her by the end of the book a bit creepy, and that stayed the same in the second book. Here we find that this is apparently a family trait, and that his mother is also essentially a “yandere”, with his father essentially having been bullied into the relationship. Honestly, I find this relationship more uncomfor4table than romantic. Thank goodness it’s not the main pairing.

So yes, if you got through all three of these as I did, well done. Now move on to another Cross Infinite World series and forget all about this.

Soup Forest: The Story of the Woman Who Speaks with Animals and the Former Mercenary, Vol. 1

By Syuu and Muni. Released in Japan as “Soup no Mori: Doubutsu to Kaiwa Suru Olivia to Moto Youhei Arthur no Monogatari” by PASH! Books. Released in North America by Cross Infinite World. Translated by Jordan Taylor.

Every so often these days, especially with light novel titles for a female readership, we see “this was popular, let’s license everything else they ever wrote”. Indeed, sometimes there’s a feeding frenzy – the same author’s Victoria of Many Faces comes out later this year from Yen. But we already saw A Young Lady Finds Her True Calling Living with the Enemy, a title I enjoyed more than I expected, so I was quite happy to give this new title from the same author a shot. Despite the Soup Forest title, which makes me think of the old Stone Soup children’s magazine from my childhood. But after reading in their previous work about a determined young woman who makes her own destiny and takes no prisoners, this book is far more relaxed and passive in tone, as fits it very broken romantic leads.

As a child, Olivia was able to hear the thoughts and emotions of animals – and humans, though this was harder. She assumed everyone could do this, but just ended up being “the weird one” to the point where her noble grandfather demanded she be taken to an Orphanage of Evil (TM). Being able to sense this future from her caretaker, she decides to escape to the forest, where she is fortunately found by a loving elderly couple. Twenty years later, they’ve passed away but Olivia has grown up to be a beautiful but very guarded young woman, more comfortable with animals than people, who runs a restaurant in the woods, The Soup Forest. (It sells soup.) The story really starts one day with the arrival of a mercenary who just retired from his work after fourteen years as he had grown weary and despairing of killing anyone else. He is also a very private, guarded person. The book’s plot is these two realizing they’re perfect for each other.

This is a relaxed story about two wounded adults finding each other, but I was surprised to find it had a very active subplot, and that subplot is our old favorite “nobles suck (except that one good noble)”. Olivia and Arthur rescue a loud, boisterous noble who turns out to have an equally extroverted sister, who immediately decides Arthur will be her new beau. This goes very badly – for her.n And there’s also Olivia’s parents, who pop up towards the end of the book and end up being the seemingly happy to see their child alive types that of course end up being “we just hope you’re NORMAL” now types. This is the main reason why Olivia thinks of herself almost as much of an animal as a person, and why her adoptive grandparents did their best to try to make sure she still remembered her humanity. The relationship between her and Arthur, in contrast to their tragic pasts, is sweet and wonderful.

This is another story that feels very complete in one volume but also has a big ‘1’ on the cover, so we’ll see what comes next. Recommended for introverts and animal lovers.