Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
The Violet Knight
Yuki Kasuga abruptly stopped aging when she hit ten years old. As if that didn't make her stand out enough, she also inherited violet eyes from her father, although she never really thought about his odd coloring. Then one day, as she was contemplating how her looks would make starting college difficult, her parents made a surprising announcement: that Yuki's dad was actually from another world and that maybe if Yuki went there, she'd begin aging normally. Without further ado, they push her from their fourteenth floor balcony, sending Yuki splashing down into a spring in a strange new land. Picked up by Prince Luca, she suddenly finds herself in a land at war, bound to Luca as he tries to stop his older brother from making things worse. Can Yuki survive? And how is it that her violet eyes still seem to be causing a commotion…?
The Violet Knight is Cross Infinite World's second English-language offering, and like its predecessor, My Favorite Song, it is an officially licensed web novel with no light novel edition in Japanese. Its chief appeal is in that it is targeted at a female readership specifically, as well as featuring a heroine who is out of high school, but the quality of the writing makes it a bit difficult to fully enjoy. This is not to say that the story itself isn't interesting or worthwhile, but rather that The Violet Knight is clearly the work of an author who is still figuring out how best to express herself.
The story follows Yuki Kasuga, an eighteen-year-old bound for university. For reasons unknown, Yuki's body stopped aging, or even growing at all, including her hair and fingernails, at age ten, so despite the fact that she'll be starting college soon, she still looks like a child. To make matters even more uncomfortable, she's also got violet eyes inherited from her father, who has always been just a little different. As it turns out, that's because he's come to Japan from another world, and he and her (Japanese) mother believe that it might be her mixed heritage that is somehow preventing her physical growth. With little ceremony and no input from Yuki, they shove her from their fourteenth floor balcony, assuming that since her dad landed in Japan after falling from a comparable height, she'll end up back in his land.
This is probably the hardest part of the novel to swallow, and while I appreciate that author Yohna just needed to get things going, it really is credulity-straining. (We can only imagine if it hadn't worked – the novel would be in a totally different genre.) It speaks to Yohna's biggest weakness as an author: transitions between scenes. While she sets up a credible fantasy world with cities that feel realistically medieval, no doubt due to the research she did into medieval Romania, and the action runs smoothly during each scene, going from one moment to the next, particularly if locations don't shift, is often choppy and poorly thought out. This does improve as the novel goes on, indicating a growing comfort and craft level, but there are several places where you have the compulsion to flip back a page or two to make sure you didn't somehow miss something. This does not feel like a fault of the translation, which avoids grammatical errors and generally feels quite professional. The only major problem is that not enough variety is used in terms of word choice, leaving some passages feeling repetitive when they don't need to.
Yuki herself is an interesting heroine. She's so used to people underestimating her because of her appearance that she doesn't get too caught up in being treated like a child, and in fact tries to use her looks to her advantage in order to be better taken care of as she gets accustomed to her new world. She is markedly bitter towards her parents throughout, although it doesn't take over her personality; it's more that at times she thinks balefully about the fact that they told her basically nothing about where they hoped she'd end up. The revelation that her father is the missing king of one of the three countries she lands in the middle of isn't much of a surprise to either the fantasy or the light novel reader; the fact that Yuki herself can't seem to figure it out is a bit more annoying. She does, however, eventually come to stand on her own two feet, taking the hand she's been dealt in stride by the novel's end. Other characters, such as ostensible hero Prince Luca, are less well defined, and he remains lost somewhere between “romance hero” and “character of unknown motivations.” In large part he suffers from the fact that Yohna shows a clear preference for the “B” male, Luca's retainer Ain, developing him more fully, although no one is as well drawn as Yuki.
The Violet Knight begins a series which has promise, despite its somewhat lackluster first entry. The ending of this first novel is intriguing and sets up a more interesting story to come, as if Yohna got more of a grasp on what she actually wanted to write. In some ways it feels as if she's a romance author struggling to write fantasy, because the romantic scenes carry more weight than the others, but the increasing confidence in her writing towards the end of the book bodes well for things in general. It isn't quite as strong as Cross Infinite World's previous series, but if you're willing to give it a chance, The Violet Knight looks as if it may pay out in the end.
Overall : C
Story : C
Art : B-
+ Yuki is an interesting heroine, nice medieval feel to the setting, writing improves as it goes on
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