Review: Sugar Apple Fairy Tale (Vol 1)

(art by Aki)

(art by Aki)

(Note: This site’s central focus is on light novels officially translated and published in English, but at times I will post reviews for stories that have only been translated by fans. Please support the Japanese books that don’t get English releases.)

Volume 1

Volume 1

Every once in a while I see discussions online regarding the marketing of light novels in Japan, and one piece of misinformation I at times find conveyed is the notion that there’s no such thing as light novels aimed toward women (or girls). This isn’t true though–any Japanese bookstore will have several shelves of light novels that clearly have a female audience in mind. It’s understandable that this isn’t common knowledge in the West though–these books don’t receive anime adaptations, and generally don’t make it into discussions of popular works (e.g. the Kono Light Novel ga Sugoi! contest).

At any rate, today I’m reviewing a light novel that is very much a shoujo story: Sugar Apple Fairy Tale, by Miri Mikawa. As the title might suggest, it’s a very sweet story involving both sugar apples and fairies. In a fantasy medieval setting where fairies are slaves to humans, our heroine is Ann Halford, a girl aspiring to become a “silver sugar master,” who can craft valuable sculptures out of a magical sugar that brings good fortune to humans and long life to fairies. Ann is against the general mistreatment that fairies undergo, but finds herself needing to buy a human-sized “warrior fairy” in order to guard her on the long journey she must take to participate in the competition to determine the land’s next silver sugar master. The fairy in question is Shall Fen Shall, a belligerent bishounen who is as cavalier as he is handsome. You can probably guess what happens next if you’ve ever read a shoujo manga before, but this isn’t a story intended for dramatic plot twists.

It is simply a cute story and a quick read–a nice way to pass the time if you’re in the mood for a light supernatural romance. The main characters are easy to like, and I particularly thought Ann’s character arc was handled nicely in regards to her relationship with her recently-deceased mother. The setting also holds promise for being delved into further in later volumes.

For this first volume, the translation reads smoothly and keeps the story moving along at a steady pace, though it perhaps could have used a bit more polishing during its editing stage. With all this in mind, I will say those who don’t like shoujo stories in general probably won’t find much of interest here–but for fans of the genre it’s an easy recommendation.

Cho’s Rating: Recommended

8 responses to “Review: Sugar Apple Fairy Tale (Vol 1)

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  2. Thank you for recommending Sugar Apple Fairytale. I thoroughly enjoyed volume 1. It’s a shame more female-oriented novels aren’t being translated.

  3. I seriously hate the focus of the West on the ecchi harem/seinen novels only, as it DOES make it look like there are no novels out aimed at women, even when they have a popular anime releases like Saiunkoku Monogatari and Hakushaku to Yousei OR it’s only yaoi novels that are published. >_<

    I'd like to see more articles highlighting fan efforts to translate the shoujo/josei side of things as it's somewhat hard to find a central hub of information that is easy to access.

    I secretly wait in vain for a company to ONLY really focus on books aimed at women.

  4. Finally put some time aside to try this. I think I managed to get just over two chapters in. I’m not really sure what you really liked about this other than the fact it’s a rare shoujo LN?
    The main issue from my perspective is that the writing technique displayed in this LN is essentially that of a middle-schooler level. I’m not sure if it’s a case of poor translations, but even poor phrasing and word choices during the TL stage doesn’t excuse many of its flaws. One of the fundamental laws of good writing has always been “show, don’t tell”, which in LN traditions meant a strong lean towards internal monologues and unveiled thoughts. In Sugar Apple Fairytale, we’re repeatedly told what Ann thinks, values, or feels. She arrives straight at her decisions without any real emotional turmoil or careful considering like weighing pros-vs-cons. Her character is essentially half-imposed upon the reader instead of actually being allowed to form itself.
    Of course, many male-oriented LNs exhibit similar problems. I guess I wished that since we’re getting a rare shoujo LN, it’d at least have quality over quantity.

    • I’m not going to praise the prose for this one, since it is very simplistic and straightforward. I would compare it more to middle grade than YA for how the story was written. I also think to some degree the author was attempting to mimic a style of telling a fairy tale, rather than placing the reader in the midst of the story with any immediacy.
      It was an easy read though so I got through it quickly, and in the end I felt it was entertaining enough to warrant recommending to fans of the genre (more specifically, fans simply wanting something light and cute). And that’s pretty much it! I wouldn’t recommend it to people looking for a deeper or more serious read.

  5. I really want Yen On to license this series. I am tired of all these harem/ ecchi series we have in the West. Where’s the light novels for us girls?? Sure, we have Alice and Pandora Hearts (love this one) but that is it. It is way overdue for a series for the female audience. Heck, even otome games are coming out now!!! There’s no excuse not to publish a series and see how it goes.

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