Alchemy, lead lines, magic, miasma, mirror monsters. Does this sound like a lot for one volume? It is!
The summary (and title) is what drew me to this story - "all she wants to do is relax, take things easy, and live at her own pace!" That is not what this book was about at all. Mariela uses suspended animation to avoid horrible monsters coming after her. When she wakes up, she immediately makes as many potions and vials as possible. She has to try to fit in to a much different society after her 200 year slumber, a world where Alchemists are all but gone, and her potions and magic are extremely rare and profitable. Mariela is so far perfect at every piece of magic and alchemy she attempts, so her storyline isn't nearly as interesting as the second to last chapter we get from her slave's point of view. Sieg's very quickly summarized backstory was more interesting than anything Mariela did in the story.
I was imagining a story where she would have to fend off the crazy hordes of people who want her potions, but she's only had three customers the whole book, and she's accommodated all of them. Not exactly her fighting against the supply and demand chain. Nor is she lamenting how good business is for her while pining for a quiet life. Instead, she's running around, gathering ingredients, casting magic all over the place. The alchemical sequences are super detailed and slightly confusing. At times, there is a huge amount of exposition where text bubbles take over the entire page. Then the mirror monsters are thrown in at the end of this novel to add yet another element she must combat. As far as I can figure out, there are monsters in a mirror dimension so when you hold up a mirror behind you and a mirror in front of you, you can risk their escape. Mariela makes a jar of offerings to put in front of her mirror to ward off the monsters, but by morning it's empty. Did she let out a mirror monster? This extra element added in the last three pages is an attempt at a cliffhanger that only leads to confusion. What about all the other plot points left hanging that could have been cliffhanger enough?
The world Nonohara created is beautifully drawn, aside from the confusing alchemy sprinkled throughout. I really wish the plot lines were solid enough to match with the beautiful drawings.
Yen Press rates this title as Teen because of mild language and violence. In the first volume, there is a little bit of violence but nothing gory, and maybe two cuss words. Seeing as the rating before this would make it All Ages, the few scenes of violence push it from being an OK elementary title to it being fine for junior high.
Sara's Rating: 6/10
Suitability level: Grades 7-12
Tags: Rating: 6/10, Suitability: Middle School, Suitability: High School, Manga, Fantasy
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