Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Apparently it's My Fault That My Husband Has The Head of a Beast
Princess Rosemarie of Volland has an odd yet terrifying affliction; when someone is lying or acting untrustworthy, she watches as their face morphs into that of a beast. This is upsetting enough that she lives her life as far away from others as she can, and when that fails, covers her head with a bucket. She's forced out of her comfortable solitude, however, when her father sends her to a ball for Prince Claudio of the powerful neighboring kingdom of Baltzar to choose a bride. It comes as a relief to Rosemarie when she sees that Claudio doesn't have a beast head, but there's a catch: only Rosemarie can see his human face, and his head looks like a beast's to everyone else! This appears to have occurred around the same time as Rosemarie's eyes changed, so what could have happened? And why is Claudio so hot-and-cold to the woman he's so eager to marry?
Despite its origins as a light novel (and the title that goes along with that), Apparently it's My Fault That My Husband Has The Head of a Beast reads like a fairly average teen fantasy romance. From Rosemarie's status as “the special girl” to Claudio's asshole behavior, Eri Shiduki's two volumes could easily have been published in the mainstream YA genre with a less convoluted title and done quite well. What that means for light novel readers is less clear, because while it does rely on many of the same tropes we find in shoujo romance manga, it veers much more on the side of plain old young adult romance fiction, and that may not be what LN readers are looking for.
Not that the tropes of the two are all that far apart. Claudio's character is likely to be the biggest barrier to entry for readers of both genres, because he is very firmly in the alpha asshole class of hero. According to Claudio, he and Rosemarie actually first met when they were children, and when she wandered into his country's Forbidden Forest, he saved her – at the cost of his magical power, or mana. Apparently Rosemarie unconsciously stole that power, resulting in him having the head of a silver lion (his kingdom's guardian beast) and her vision becoming unfortunately enhanced. Rather than thinking that Rosemarie didn't realize what she was doing, Claudio spent the next seven years blaming her for his difficulties, and when she turned up at his ball, he determined to marry her in order to both get his mana back and to exact revenge.
While he does get better as the first novel goes on, and is almost a different character by the end of the second book, some of his actions towards Rosemarie in the beginning are very hard to stomach. Rosemarie suffers from extreme anxiety and is prone to panic attacks as a result of her vision, and crowds are absolutely her trigger. Even though Claudio knows this (at least intellectually), he several times abandons her in crowded situations with every evidence of it being deliberate. This causes Rosemarie to have a breakdown, and Claudio isn't able to fully bring himself to apologize in a way that she can understand or that readers can accept. His consistent blaming Rosemarie for the unconscious act of a child is also an issue, not only because it makes him look like a jerk, but because it's selfish behavior that comes off as entitled and obnoxious, when arguably he's still able to go about his normal life while she is not.
Not that Rosemarie is any great shakes either. While it is difficult to find fault with her anxiety/panic, she also doesn't seem to be taking many steps to help herself, and her low self-esteem (which is unfortunately supported by her husband for most of the first novel) makes her irritating to read about at times. What's perhaps worse, however, is the way the two romantic leads' issues butt heads with each other, making it almost ridiculously hard for them to get along. It seems likely that Shiduki intended for this to be funny or perhaps to be a way to show that both of them need to grow and change as people, but what really happens is that the romance feels bogged down. This is furthered by the almost silly level of naivete that infects both Claudio and Rosemarie as far as their marital relations go. Kissing is greeted with the same level of horror as if Edeltraud (archmage of Baltzar) was encouraging them to strip in public, and when it is discovered that physical contact and kissing can help reverse Claudio's condition, no one makes the logical point that perhaps consummating their marriage would help even more. I'm not suggesting that the novels need full-blown sex scenes, but after about halfway through the second book, it begins to feel as if the topic (and the fact that Claudio and Rosemarie are married) is being deliberately avoided, especially as there's no mention of supposed “purity” to be found.
Fortunately there are still things to enjoy here. The translation for volume two is smooth and well-done (volume one, sadly, has some issues with incorrect words and typos), and the supporting characters are a lot of fun, especially Rosemarie's maid Heidi and Edeltraud. Edel is a non-binary character, which is a nice bit of inclusion, and the translation for both volumes does an excellent job with they/them pronouns. The reveal of what really happened seven years ago is drawn out over the course of the second novel and is both well done and makes a lot of sense, and if there is to be a third novel (no sign of it as of this writing on J-Novel Club's website), Shiduki has set the stage for things to progress both interestingly and smoothly. The conflict between magical kingdoms, such as Baltzar, and religious ones, such as Volland or The Holy Land, is nicely set up and played with as well, with volume two's setting in The Holy Land showcasing some interesting conflicts of interest that come with having a religion in a fantasy setting eschew magic. Simply put, this seems set to be a series that gets better with each book.
Apparently it's My Fault That My Husband Has The Head of a Beast isn't as captivating as some of the other female-oriented light novels to be released in English, and its more mainstream YA feel and unlikable hero both could work against it, at least in volume one. But volume two shows that it does have decent potential, and if a third book comes out, it will likely be worth checking out.
Overall : C+
Story : C+
Art : B
+ Volume two is much stronger, Heidi and Edel are fun characters, some nice setting details
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