Genre: Seinen Fantasy
Year Release in English: 2019
Content warnings: Fantasy violence, war
One of the greatest pieces of Jo bait are stories in which a technology faction is at war with a magic faction and neither seems to be winning. Throw in, specifically, ice witches and an enemies-to-lovers romance, and I’m hooked.
A mechanical utopia, The Empire, is at war with a paradise for witches, The Sovereignty. Iska is the youngest to rise to the rank of Saint Disciple in the military, on a mission to capture the Ice Calamity Witch, Alice. Epic fights ensue while intrigue and plotting unfold in the quieter moments, culminating in a literally earth-shattering fight against a originator witch possessing multiple elemental powers.
There are some beautiful turns of phrase throughout this novel that makes the prose as exciting to read as seeing the illustrations. The world feels lived in, with one of my favorite details being the culture present within the neutral cities. It’s where main characters Iska and Alice get to know each other, specifically attending an opera and seeing an art exhibition together. They can’t attack, and that forced proximity and peace makes for some charming awkwardness that brings the characters together almost as efficiently as their weapons and magic clashing in battle.
There are more powers that be than just the Empire and the Sovereignty, and I’m eager to keep reading.