Dale is a skilled 18-year-old adventurer who's been traveling and defeating monsters since he was 15. One day he comes across a little devil child who's had one of her horns broken off, something that would usually be considered a sign that she was a criminal and had been banished from her people. She's so young that Dale can't think of anything she could possibly have done. The devil who was apparently her father or guardian died not far from where Dale found the girl, so Dale, not knowing what else to do and unwilling to kill or abandon her, takes her with him.
He can communicate with her a little, and she's a fast learner. He soon learns that her name is Latina. She doesn't seem to want to talk about her past much, but she takes well to Dale, as well as to Rita and Keith, the couple who run the inn where Dale had been staying up to that point. Dale also takes instantly to Latina, and it isn't long before he decides to become her adoptive father. Meanwhile, Latina learns to help out around the inn, improves her language skills, makes a few friends, and encounters anti-devil prejudice.
I bought this because it looked sweet and I'm a sucker for adoptive parent slice-of-life stories. I somehow forgot that it's usually a good idea to do a bit of research and spoiler-hunting prior to getting at all invested in these, especially when they're "single man adopts adorable little girl" stories. This first volume, at least, was pretty decent.
The writing/translation was a bit awkward, but I've definitely seen worse. The only time it got a little confusing was when the author elaborated on the details of how things like customer accounts at the inn worked - I had a feeling that the translator couldn't follow along well either and just tried to get through those bits as quickly as possible. One thing I really liked, though: this is one of those rare third-person POV light novels.
I rolled my eyes a bit at how very cute Latina was, tottering around with trays of food while scary-looking adventurers silently wished her well and melted at the sight of her. She was, of course, well-behaved and quiet, and she rarely caused any problems - basically perfect for a single father whose job meant that he couldn't always be around to watch over her. Still, I go into these kinds of series expecting ridiculously cute and generally well-behaved children, so it wasn't exactly a surprise, and it helped that Latina was actually a little older than she appeared to be. One thing that irked me, though: even as Latina's language skills improved, she continued to speak (and even think!) about herself in the third person. I suspect that this was another effort to make her seem cute, and for some reason it got on my nerves more than the multiple pages devoted to her learning to carry food to customers at the inn.
Readers were repeatedly told that Dale was a cool and experienced warrior who was known to be touchy about how others perceived him. In his homeland, he was considered an adult at age 15, but in this particular area he'd only just barely legally become an adult, and there had apparently been instances of folks treating him like a kid or a newbie adventurer. Readers never actually got to see any of that, though, and Dale was so completely and utterly head over heels for Latina that he failed to notice anything that might be perceived as insulting comments about his age and abilities. He also hardly got any opportunities to show off his supposedly awesome adventuring skills. The person Dale was supposed to be didn't match at all the Dale that readers experienced on-page.
Still, I liked this overall and was looking forward to reading more about this little adoptive family. What happened to Latina in her hometown? Why had Dale moved so far away from his people in the first place, and would he continue with his adventuring life or would Latina prompt him to settle down a bit? Who else would they meet and befriend in town?
But a little detail early on in the book bothered me.
It was shortly after Dale found Latina and took her back to his room at the inn. He was helping her bathe and found himself thinking "Could it be...that this girl will be a real beauty someday?" (25) Which was a weird thought to have about a starving, traumatized little girl. He then worried that, if he didn't take her in, some pervert would view her as prey - her broken horn meant that even her own people wouldn't protect her. So I was willing to let that weird original thought slide at first, but found myself thinking about it again when I considered buying and reading the next book. So I did some spoiler hunting.
It's not difficult info to find - apparently it crops up as early as book 3 or 4. Even the positive reviews of the later books mention it, and there seem to be quite a few folks who are fine with the direction the series takes. However, I started reading this series because I wanted a sweet story about a young man who suddenly decides to become the adoptive father of a little girl, and that's very much not what the later books will be giving me.
For that reason, I won't be continuing on with this series.
Four pages of full-color illustrations (which are gorgeous), several black-and-white illustrations throughout, and an afterword written by the author.
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)