Spice and Wolf is a wildly popular light novel series that has spawned off an anime, an Internet radio show, and a manga series. While its European medieval setting is typical of high fantasy, this series has a unique bent. Rather than swordfights and magic, the plot focuses on economics, trade, and peddling in a way that skillfully blends adventure and romance.
Yen Press has recently released the seventh volume of this series, and you can read on for the review. (You can also click here for my reviews of previous Spice and Wolf releases).
For those curious about Holo, Lawrence, and Col’s ongoing journey, you’ll have to wait a bit longer. Volume 7, as the back cover states, takes a break from their adventures to present a series of short vignettes. They consist of the novella, “The Boy and the Girl and the White Flowers,” and two short stories, “The Red of the Apple, the Blue of the Sky” and “Wolf and Amber Melancholy.”
According to the author’s notes, the novella features “Holo’s big-sisterly side” as it delves into Holo’s past. I’d hoped it would be about how she came to settle in her wheat field, but it has nothing to do with her old village or even Yoitsu. Instead, the story tells of an earlier journey. However, the journey is not Holo’s but that of two children. Former occupants of a rustic estate, they find themselves thrust into the wide world with only one another to rely upon.
The two young sojourners are opposites. The boy Klass is uneducated while the girl Ayres can read and write, but she has led such a sheltered life she’s never seen flowers growing in a field. So when the manor’s new master throws them out, Klass is constantly having to help Ayres. But Klass himself is only ten, and they soon find themselves in dire straits. Fortunately for them, they encounter Holo, who takes them under her wing. But her aid is not without a price. She teases poor Klass is badly as she does Lawrence, which surprised me given the gentler treatment she displays toward Col in Volume 6. Meanwhile, Ayres gets spared the brunt of Holo’s jabs and jibes. By the end of the novella, I felt thoroughly sorry for Klass, and Holo came off as a mean big sister figure indeed.
The short stories, on the other hand, feature Holo’s gluttony, according to Hasekura-sensei. Lawrence appears alongside her in these stories, which were both included in the Spice and Wolf anime. In “The Red of the Apple, the Blue of the Sky,” Lawrence gets to show off his business sense as he and Holo go shopping for clothes. Of the three stories, this is the only one that focuses on trade, though it isn’t quite an economics lesson. And though Lawrence does teach Holo something new, she, of course, manages to one-up him in the end.
Poor Lawrence seems ever at the mercy of Holo’s demands and sharp tongue so “Wolf and Amber Melancholy” is a refreshing change of pace. It is, as Hasekura-sensei mentions, the first time he writes from Holo’s perspective. Not much talk of business, but there is a bit of medieval medicine theory with our wisewolf sick in bed. Considering how much she frustrates and embarrasses Lawrence, it’s fun to see her frustrated and embarrassed as she deals with illness and jealousy. It’s also nice to know exactly how the wisewolf feels about her travel companion for once.
I should mention that the text is a bit choppy. I’m not sure if it’s because of the original Japanese text or the translation, but there are several short phrases and short sentences bunched together that makes for a less than smooth read. Plus, there are also a couple grammatical errors in the text.
This light novel includes the title page, three two-page spreads, and the table of contents printed in color as well as ten black-and-white illustrations.
Hasekura-sensei takes a break from Holo and Lawrence’s wanderings in the north to share three Spice and Wolf vignettes. Fans of the anime and manga series will recognize the two short stories, which feature Lawrence and Holo. The novella, on the other hand, takes place far in Holo’s past as it tells of her journey with a pair of children who’ve been cast out of a manor. And though she earns points for protecting the poor little waifs, we discover that even children aren’t spared a wisewolf’s mischief.
First published at the Fandom Post.