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by Rebecca Silverman,

Healer for the Shadow Hero

Volume 1 Manga Review

Healer for the Shadow Hero Volume 1 Manga Review

Nanna lost her family in the war seven years ago and has been working as an underpaid, borderline-illegal servant for a wealthy family ever since. She's also been hiding her "gift," each person's unique power, because hers allows her to heal anything – for the price of her virginity. With her current life, she's decided it's safer to keep that power to herself, but when she bumps into the prince – who can assess anyone's gift – she finds herself summoned to the palace. It turns out that the man who saved her during the war has an incurable disease…and Nanna's the only one who can save him!

Healer for the Shadow Hero is translated by Faye Cozy and lettered by Mercedes McGarry.


One of the fun things about Seven Seas' Steamship line of racy manga aimed at a female audience is finding which romance tropes are prevalent in any given release. While every genre has its tropes and standards, romance has come to be defined by them in a way that other genres rarely are. (Young adult fiction comes the closest to this.) It's gotten to the point where SEO (Search Engine Optimized) titles are fully ridiculous, but at their core, these trope labels are intended to help people find the flavor of romance they prefer to read. Healer for the Shadow Hero falls under the heading of “her love can save him,” albeit in a more literal sense than we often see that trope employed. Luveigh Lee, the hero of both book and title, isn't the archetypical bad boy who needs only the love of a good woman to be redeemed; he's going to die, or at least suffer, if he doesn't get the aid of heroine Nanna.

Nanna's in need of some rescuing herself. The story opens nearly a decade after a terrible war decimated the country, and Nanna's family was a casualty of it: her town was destroyed, and she was orphaned. Even more importantly, she was left without a family registry, meaning that as far as the government is concerned, she's dead. That's something that her current employers have taken full advantage of – under the guise of rescuing her from the streets, they “hired” her as a servant but treated her as a slave without government oversight. Her wages are ludicrously small, her days off often ignored, and she suffers abuse at the hands of Isabella, the daughter who appears to be around her age. Nanna's one escape is her beloved novel, which she saved up to buy, although a kindly apothecary also offers her refuge on her rare days off. Although she knows her life is hard and that she's being mistreated, Nanna's gotten to the point where she accepts it.

All of that changes when she bumps into the prince. He immediately realizes that she has a rare Gift, an innate power everyone is born with, and discovers at age seven. His Gift is to be able to learn all about anyone he touches, and he finds that Nanna is to be able to fully heal someone of the opposite gender if she has sex with them. (Or, as everyone assumes, loses her virginity to them; more on that in a bit.) Realizing that Nanna's the one person who can heal Luveigh, a war hero, he is determined to bring her to the palace. Naturally, Isabella objects, but eventually, Luveigh and Nanna meet to get some healing done.

It's worth noting that neither of them is comfortable with this. Nanna has been leery of her power since her parents explained that it could be used against her if people learned of it, and she's been doing her best to hide it. Because the stipulation laid out when she was told what she could do – “Will only activate when the wielder offers a sacrifice in the form of intercourse to a member of the opposite sex” – she has assumed that she can only use it once, to the person she surrenders her virginity to. But “sacrifice” can mean a lot of things; if she was a lesbian, any intercourse with a man would count as a sacrifice, as would sex she didn't want regardless of sexual orientation. And when Luveigh, after deflowering her, immediately declares that he'll take responsibility by marrying her, that indicates that sex outside of marriage could also count as a sacrifice – the sacrifice of her reputation. This seems to be borne out by the fact that it's going to take more than one “healing session” to cure Luveigh fully; if loss of virginity was the condition, then she wouldn't be able to heal him after that one time.

This book is adorable despite these technicalities and an undeniably silly setup (only in romance manga, right?). Luveigh, the “shadow hero” because he uses shadows due to his Gift and doesn't enjoy public attention, is an awkward man who desperately wants to do the right thing and rapidly falls for Nanna, possibly despite himself. He may start by saying that he wants to marry her because he slept with her, but it quickly becomes clear that he was hit with a major bolt of love at first sight, and he's afraid that if he voices that, she'll get scared and run off. Nanna is falling for him more slowly, and she seems to be worried that part of why she's drawn to him is that she's enjoying their “healing sessions” quite a bit; despite a lack of experience on his part, he's a fast learner. (So yes, you can add the virgin hero trope to the list for this book.) She also knows that his kindness after she suffered for so long at Isabella's hands could be coloring her views. After all of what she's been through, it's hard to blame her…even if Luveigh's sweetness is a potent argument for why she may want to give in and marry him, as all the townsfolk hint.

The art is the major stumbling block here. It isn't bad, but it has major perspective issues. The naked bodies don't look quite right, mostly in their limb lengths and the fact that they're so thin that the characters appear to be bobbleheads without their clothes. The plot also jumps around a little bit, probably a fault of the adaptation since this originated as a light novel, but it's not enough to truly detract from the story. The translation has issues, mostly in a half-hearted attempt to sound old-fashioned. It never truly achieves that, instead throwing a few antiquated phrases around and hoping for the best; it would have been better to either ignore them or commit to a pseudo-Victorian translation. Still, despite these issues, this is a cute story, decently racy, and generally good, fluffy fun. Even if it's not your trope, it's worth picking up if you want a mildly explicit romance.

Overall : B
Story : B
Art : B-

+ Adorable male lead, cute romance plot. Heroine is really trying to think about her options.
Art suffers from perspective issues, translation is awkward in its attempts to sound old-fashioned.

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Production Info:
Original story: Kyu Azagishi
Art: Ako
Licensed by: Seven Seas Entertainment

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Healer for the Shadow Hero (manga)

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