So here’s an inside look of how I wrote what you’re about to read:
Chris had gathered a paperback book and was able to spend an ample amount of time learning its intricacies, building images in his mind of the experiences the characters went through. He’d read novels before, so he had developed the technique needed to absorb the information inside. But now it was time to transfer his own thoughts into a digital form so the masses could similarly form their own ideas. Chris took in a deep breath, focused himself, and began the process.
Windows. Programs. Word.
Chris’s fingers assaulted the keyboard at a frantic speed, eager to unload his thoughts about the book. Sentence by sentence, the screen began to fill with words. He would only momentarily pause for a sip of water or a coworker asking him a question. About an hour passed, and Chris had crafted a rough version of the completed text. But it needed refinement. Soon, he would submit it to his peers, where it would be refined and adjusted to be as effective as possible. But as for now, he just took a moment to collect himself. The task was draining, but in the end, rewarding. He only hoped his ideas came across as clear as possible…
If you enjoyed that detailed breakdown of my creative process, then you’ll really enjoy a good chunk of the first volume of Usata Nonohara’s The Alchemist Who Survived Now Dreams of a Quiet City Life.
The story tweaks the isekai genre in a unique way by having the fish-out-of-water protagonist actually be from the same world. Mariela, an apprentice alchemist, manages to avoid a horde of ravenous monsters known as the Stampede, but does so by putting herself into suspended animation. When she wakes up, she finds her home destroyed and all of the land changed by the Stampede. After returning to civilization with some soldiers, she discovers that the circle that was only supposed to protect her for a few months kept her under for about 200 years. On the plus side, her talents, considered mundane in her day, are extremely rare in the new age, so the potions she can craft are able to fetch quite the hefty profit.
Mariela then decides she wants to set up an apothecary in nearby Labyrinth City, which rose from the remnants of her era’s Citadel City. So with the help of Lynx, Dick and Malraux, the soldiers who rescued her, and her companion Sieg (more about him later,) she goes about doing just that. And this leads into one of the two big issues I had with this book.
When Mariela practices her alchemical talents, Nonohara gets incredibly detailed in the techniques and ingredients used to create the potions and salves she crafts. The story almost grinds to a halt as we stop to follow Mariela as she dries herbs, generates magical essence, and refines monster parts to make potions. No step is missed as she goes through her mental recipes for her creations, and at times, it can bog down the progress of the story. I admire the attention to detail Nonohara gives each process, but could’ve lived with a little less of it as the story carried on.
The second problem I had with the book revolves around Sieg. You see, Sieg isn’t really a companion, per se… Sieg is a slave. When Mariela arrives in Labyrinth City, one of the first things she sees is a slave auction. Rightfully, Mariela is disgusted by the fact that slave traders still exist, and takes pity on the slaves, and Sieg in particular. After selling potions to the party of soldiers, she has enough money to claim Sieg. And rather than argue for his freedom, or pay his fee and let him help her as a liberated man… she just buys him. Sieg is branded and then bonded with Mariela by blood to be her servant. As the story continues, she heals his injuries, buys him clothes, pays him money, and practically grants him equal rights, but in the end, she still owns him. Mariela still orders him to fetch things for her and do other menial tasks, and he trains to be her personal bodyguard. It made me feel incredibly uncomfortable throughout the entire story.
If you can make it past those two obstacles, what’s left is a relatively light story about a girl getting her bearings and trying to make a living in a world that’s not her own. The people of Labyrinth City are happy to help, and they seem pleasant enough. It was easy to root for Mariela to succeed with her incredible talents. She’s bright, bubbly, and never gets knocked back by the challenges she faces in a changed world. It’s a fun read, and when plot happens, it’s quite enjoyable. But for me, I couldn’t get past the excessive processes and the slavery factor, so my journey with Mariela ends here. Don’t let me stop you from enjoying it though. Perhaps Mariela has the perfect recipe for you.
Two hundred years ago, the Kingdom of Endalgia was destroyed by the monsters of the Demon Forest. The sole survivor is an alchemist named Mariela who managed to escape through suspended animation. When she wakes up two centuries later, she learns that alchemists have gone extinct, and potions are now at a high premium. But what does the last alchemist standing want more than anything else? ...A laid-back, quiet town life!Add to CartLearn More