Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
If It's for My Daughter, I'd Even Defeat a Demon Lord
Dale is an accomplished adventurer, frequently hired by the government for dangerous jobs and a high priest in his own right. He's cool, composed, and lives life on his own terms, renting space in the Dancing Ocelot Inn in the town of Kreuz but basically doing his own thing. Then one day, returning home from a quest, he finds a devil child alone in the woods. Since the girl is clearly starving, he takes her in, despite the fact that she's missing a horn, a sign of a devil criminal cast out by her village. The more time Dale spends with little Latina, the more he grows to love her – devil or human, she's become his daughter, and woe betide anyone who tries to hurt her.
Single dad stories have basically become their own subgenre at this point, although mostly they tend to be set in the here and now and focus on the struggles of a single man trying to raise a daughter. That's still true of If It's for My Daughter, I'd Even Defeat a Demon Lord, a light novel e-book released by J-Novel Club, but with a twist: it's set in a swords and sorcery fantasy world and father and daughter aren't the same race. Dale is also much younger than most of his fellow single dads, but apart from being a point of interest, as of this first novel, it doesn't look like that's a fact that should worry us.
Dale stumbles upon his adopted daughter in the forest. He's a skilled adventurer on a solo quest, alone in the woods when he notices another presence. That turns out to be little girl, filthy and clearly starving. The child is also a devil, one of the seven races of man in the story's world, humanoid except for the horns on her head. But there's something particularly disturbing about this child's horns – one of them has been broken off, the devil's mark for exiled criminals. Since the girl looks to be about five years old (she's later revealed to be a small eight), Dale isn't too worried about the horn, because what could a child that young have actually done? That's still a question that needs answering by the end of the novel, as well as one that seems a bit forgotten after its initial mention, so hopefully the second book will begin to address it more fully. What we do know is that the little girl's biological father was with her but was killed by magic beasts, and the poor child was starving to death before Dale found her.
The first few chapters of the book are devoted to Dale and Latina's first days together. Latina has to learn the common language (Dale fortunately speaks a little devil, since it's the language all spells are in) and begin to adapt to her new surroundings. Dale, for his part, has to learn how to take care of a child, something he is coached in by his friends/landlords, Kenneth and his wife Rita. Kenneth and Rita become Latina's de facto aunt and uncle, and one of the most charming parts of the book is watching everyone come together to form a family. Author CHIROLU does lapse into excessive cuteness at times when describing Latina's actions, but her slow acceptance of her new home and family is well portrayed, and her actions help to foreshadow her true age before its late volume reveal. This is definitely a good thing, because otherwise she comes off as a bit too preciously precocious.
The point of view shifts between two third person narrators, Latina and Dale, with the odd outside perspective to highlight how Dale has changed since becoming a dad. In Latina's sections we can see how desperately she wants to forget her previous life and fit in, which leads to the most upsetting sequence late in the book, when a cruel teacher bullies Latina to the point of self-harm. That a little girl would go to such lengths to be a part of the community she's come to love says a lot about how unloved she felt previously, as well as her continuing, repressed fear of being thrown out and abandoned. While she may not doubt that Dale would go with her should she be forced to leave, she also remembers that her first father died because he did that very thing. Another strength of these sections, and the parts involving Latina's local child friends, is that CHIROLU is able to show that children are taught prejudices, not born with them, which stands to be an important theme going forward.
J-Novel Club's translation is not quite up to its usual standard, with a few places missing connecting words or pieces of contractions. The grammar is otherwise correct, but the writing feels a little more stilted than their average release. Given the flow of the novel, it does feel possible that the original Japanese text was not as well-written as others that they have released; this is borne out by the fact that both story flow and translation smooth out towards the final quarter of the book.
Although this novel isn't much more than set-up for whatever the truth about Latina turns out to be, it's still a sweet, entertaining read. Hopefully Latina's school friends will continue to feature in the text, because her relationships with them stand to be as important as those with her new family, but whatever direction this takes, it feels like it is heading in an upward direction.
Overall : B
Story : B
Art : B
+ Kids act like kids, sweet in the ways it should be, world building is integrated without infodumping
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