Hello, I am a Witch and my Crush Wants me to Make a Love Potion! Novel 2

3 months ago 43

If the first novel in the duology about Rose the witch and Harij Azm the knight fit the title a little too closely, the second introduces a tiny bit of subtlety into the relationship between book and title. There is still a love potion involved, but it plays a very different role, and the focus this time is on how Rose copes with her new life, which involves substantially less isolation than she's used to.

Picking up shortly after the first book's finale, the novel begins with Rose moving out of her Hermitage in the forest and into Harij's mansion in town. Almost immediately things go wrong: Rose decides to walk to Harij's house early rather than waiting to be picked up, and then makes the mistake of going to the back door – AKA the servants' entrance. It's a fairly relatable bit of confusion – in some more rural areas, front doors are rarely used if there's also a back door, especially if that back door leads to the kitchen, the nerve center of most homes. And for Rose the back door is certain to look less intimidating than the grand front entrance of a large mansion, if she's even aware that there are two entrances in the first place.

In any event, her mistake results in her being mistaken for the new lady's maid, an assumption Rose doesn't feel comfortable correcting. While it does get sorted out when Harij comes home and finds her scrubbing the front hall in preparation for her own arrival, it largely serves as a precursor to the troubles Rose will have throughout the book in adjusting to her new life. One of the more interesting aspects of the narrative is the way that we're never fully certain whether these difficulties are due to Rose being a witch (and that being a separate race of people) or to how she was raised – in near isolation by her grandmother. Since this is a theme that runs through the first novel as well, its continuation here feels organic, especially since it reintroduces the question of whether witches really are a separate race or if their learned behaviors (which may come about through social isolation) are what make them able to use magic.

This question actually forms the backbone of the story's denouement. Mid-way through the novel Rose encounters a young girl in the forest who has fallen into a pit trap on her way to visit the Hermitage. The girl (whom we know to be Lulu, the younger princess of the kingdom) is obsessed with witches and wants Rose to take her on as an apprentice. Rose, believing Lulu not to be of witch blood, refuses, but this later comes back to bite her when mysterious love potions begin making nobles ill. The initial assumption of the prince is that Rose is behind them; the truth isn't hard to guess from the context clues in the earlier part of the book. But while Rose is convinced that there must at some point have been a witch in the royal family's spouses, the fact that Lulu is unstintingly honest as a person feels like it may have as much, if not more, to do with being a witch. As you may recall, witches cannot tell lies as the price they pay for being able to use magic; is it that witches are unable to utter untruths, or that not lying for a long enough period of time makes you a witch?

That's never actually answered, and indeed gets a bit lost in the romantic plotline, which is the driving force behind the book. While that's not a bad thing, the romance plot is a little less immediately engaging. In part that's because we already know that things are going to work out for Rose and Harij, but more is the fact that Rose can be almost irritatingly naïve and that there are a couple of contradictions in the text. The biggest issue is that during the interlude chapter, Harij very clearly kisses Rose, but later she's embarrassed by the idea of the kiss to close out the wedding ceremony because it will be “her first.” It's possible that I misread or misinterpreted the line in the interlude, but even if I did, Harij later does a whole lot more than kiss her, so Rose's shock and horror feels a bit misplaced. There's also some use of the tired old romance trope of “I can't control myself and it's your fault,” although Rose plainly does enjoy Harij's touch, so it's not as bad as it could have been – she's surprised, but not upset, which is much better than is usual with that particular genre romance element.

The writing and translation are both on par with the first novel, with the translation relying less on anachronistic slang than the first book, which is nice. (There's only one instance that stands out, when Rose thinks “As if!”, which I can't say I've heard since the 1990s.) The illustrations are lovely, with artist Vient putting in more delicate details than we typically see, particularly on Rose's clothes in the color images and her witchly robe. Story-wise Eiko Mutsuhama does do a good job of reminding us how very strange everything about this new life is for Rose while making it clear that part of it is her own discomfort with change and not actually the outside world's issue at all. As she becomes more comfortable (and realizes things like “if you don't tell him you love him, he won't know”), life gets easier, so her interactions are almost as much a product of her comfort level as of the prejudices she assumes others to have. It may not be quite as strong as the first book, but Hello, I am a Witch and my Crush Wants me to Make a Love Potion!'s follow up is still a nice, easy read as we follow Rose and Harij to their happy ending.

Read Entire Article