At the end of the previous volume, Myne passed out due to the Devouring and seemed likely to die. But of course she didn't - in the beginning of this volume, it's revealed that she was taken to the guildmaster to be saved by one of the fragile magical items he collected in order to save his granddaughter, Freida, who also has the Devouring.
It's a good thing that Myne has saved up so much money, because even old and nearly broken magical tools cost a lot, and are typically only available to nobles. And not only that, they don't cure someone with the Devouring, they just temporarily lower the person's mana level enough for them to feel better. If she doesn't sign a contract with a noble and agree to become their slave, Myne likely only has another year at most before the Devouring kills her.
Freida and the guildmaster, who already have connections with nobles, want to corner Myne into working with them. Benno wants Myne (and her lucrative product ideas) to stay with him and the Gilberta Company. Then there's Myne's family and her friend Lutz - if she signs a contract with a noble, she'll likely never see any of them again. So Myne has some tough decisions to make.
In some ways, this was the best volume in the series so far. There were only a few overly detailed "making stuff from our world in a fantasy world" scenes, more emphasis was put on characters' relationships with others (Myne and her family, and Lutz and his), readers finally got a small glimpse of the wider world and its politics, and there was forward movement in the Devouring aspect of the plot.
Unfortunately, the story had a bad tendency to meander - I had to flip through it to remind myself what happened in between the more important plot points. Lots of planning for Myne's baptism, getting Lutz ready to become an apprentice merchant, more paper-making but bigger, and Myne accidentally inventing yet another new food. I still agree with what I wrote in my review for Volume 1: Part 1 really would have been better condensed into a single volume rather than spread out over three books.
The writing was terrible. That fact was easier to gloss over in the previous two volumes, but in this one the author included a few scenes that should have been very emotional and that were instead ruined by the author's reliance upon what were essentially sound effects to convey characters' emotions. Things like: "Sniff," "Nnn," and "Ngggh." And speaking of sound effects, it seemed like Myne said "Bwuh" way more in this volume than she did in the previous two, and it started to irk me a bit. And this series really should have been written in the third person. The author had to cheat a bit in this volume to get around the limitations of Myne's first person POV, and honestly most of the bonus stories also came across as clumsy attempts to get around the series' POV limitations.
I have a bunch of questions about the world-building - it seemed shakiest where foods were concerned. First there was the whole thing, earlier in the series, about commoners not having access to rice. In this volume it was revealed that
sugar (I'm guessing that the author/translator actually meant "refined sugar") had only just begun to be imported, but even without sugar I would have figured people would have experience with baking cakes using honey. And yet for some reason the cake Myne baked was treated like a revolution, and Leise, a supposedly experience cook and baker, needed Myne's suggestions to figure out how to jazz the recipe up with additional ingredients. At one point, the text referred to pound cake dough (205) rather than batter, which told me that either the author or translator, or possibly both, wasn't a baker.
Despite all of these problems, I still plan on reading Part 2 once it's possible for me to get all three books. I look forward to seeing where the author goes with the new developments in the story. But I won't lie, this isn't a well-written series. I've been able to put up with its issues so far, but I'd totally understand if others couldn't.
I haven't seen the anime yet but plan to do so. I strongly suspect that the emotional scenes in this volume will work a lot better in the anime than they did here. I prefer You Shiina's artwork to the screenshots I've seen of the anime, but that's normal - Shiina's illustrations can have a level of detail that just wouldn't work in an animated series.
A folded page with full-color illustrations on both sides, black-and-white illustrations throughout, a map of the portion of the town Myne has access to, a drawing of Myne's family's home, and six bonus stories.
The bonus stories aren't really bonus - they continue the main story a bit, but from other characters' POVs. Hence my comment about authorial cheating. The POVs included: Tuuli, Leise, Benno (he lost a bunch of points with me in his short story - I'd thought he was a savvy merchant, but he's looking more and more like a reckless idiot), Mark (J-Novel Club made a mistake and used Benno's chapter's title as Mark's chapter's running head, oops), Lutz, and the guildmaster. You know, I can't recall if the guildmaster has ever been given a name.
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)