Rating: 3.5 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novel

 

Jake, a middle-aged businessman, has finally decided — after ten years — to stop taking everyone’s shit. His parents married him to an odious man who lies, steals, cheats, racked up debt, crashed his car, and spends his days deep in escorts and drugs while Jake plays the part of the perfect husband, working for his father-in-law’s company and managing to make his rich relative even richer. But today, he is done. With one last successful act of business, Jake manages to gain his freedom: divorce!

Life is finally his to live until a truck comes out of nowhere. Fortunately, the shiny coin Jake had bent over to pick up was a magic coin, and Jake now finds himself isekai’d into a magic world of goblins, giants, elves, and dwarves who view Jake as a Holy Maiden, a hero from another world who will save them from the poisonous miasma that is killing their crops, their animals, and their children.

Sure, that doesn’t sound too impossible. The coin gives Jake magic, and Jake wants to help these people … but the only way to make the magic work is to sing, and Jake is terrified of singing in public! Isn’t there some other way he can save them? Maybe with a spreadsheet or business meeting?

This is the first book in the Fortune Favors the Fae multi-author series, a fifteen-book collection by various authors, each of which is a standalone book of mischief and romance instigated by a fae coin. This book has a particular flavor that may not be to every reader’s taste. Rather than being a standard portal fantasy, this is more the novelization of a web novel and is more a slice of life story than anything else. There’s farming, flirting, and food. And in the last chapter or so, evil villains who are banished through the power of business acumen.

In his past life, Jake’s task was to make as much money as possible. To pinch every penny, to take advantage of every worker, to play the game and be better than his opponent. Here, with no father-in-law to please, no parents to try to fruitlessly make like him, Jake is free to be himself. He’s not just a businessman doing business, he’s also kind, fair, generous, honest, and compassionate. He’s used to working hard, to long hours for little appreciation, so when Jake discovers that, with magic, he can heal the sick and bring a starving duchy food and nourishment, it’s a simple matter for him to work until he drops to cure them and feed them. His efforts are rewarded with praise, thanks, and friendship — none of which he’s used to, and his modesty and humility only earn him more respect.

Theon is the Duke of Rehobath, a territory no one wanted, where the miasma lurks just beyond the wall and whose people are starving. When the holy maiden appears in his bed, Theon knows he should reach out to the temple and send the maid— er, Jake—to the King … but instead he decides to keep him here, where it is hoped Jake can do the most good. Theon, like Jake, is used to putting others first; he’s also practical, and wants to show Jake the best of his duchy in hopes that Jake will stay, will put his magic to its proper use — here, with him, rather than performing tricks in the capital.

He knows it’s wrong, but Theon is very much the sort of man to do the wrong thing for the right reasons, and when he realizes he’s falling for Jake, he decides to do the proper thing and …. flirt. Gently, because Jake has told him about his awful ex husband, and respectfully, because Jake says he’s not ready for marriage. When Jake offers to date him, Theon eagerly takes him up on it, and when Jake is ready, he asks for permission to court him with an eye towards marriage. He’s always asking rather than assuming; he is supportive and kind, and the relationship is well balanced between them.

However, while there are parts I did like in this book (Coin — the fae coin — being jealous of other coins, the reveal of the source of the miasma and why it exists, and the meeting with the King and Queen), there are some areas where this book didn’t quite work for me. I’ve read my share of webtoons and isekai — see my reviews for Scum Villain — and I’m familiar with the tropes and the overall feel of them, but I don’t think enough of the setting came through. While some characters are mentioned to be goblins or giants or elves, there’s no sense of what this world is or what it’s supposed to be based off of other than fantasy. And yet, everyone speaks just like Jake. They use the same slang, and when he uses a word like refrigerator, there’s no reaction.

No one in this book seems to have any reaction to Jake to indicate he’s anything more than someone with magic. They don’t act like he is someone from another world. And this world is severely lacking in world building. It feels almost as if the book is asking me to fill in the blanks myself based on my familiarity with the genre conventions. For example, this world has foghorns and knows what planets are; they, I assume, also know what machines are because Jake mentions them and no one asks for clarification. It could be that, owing to the influx of previous Holy Maidens drawn to the world in past times, they have left their mark on the world, but if so, that’s never stated. That’s just a guess on my part. As someone who enjoys world building — especially when the characters are somewhat lacking — the absence of the world as it’s own reality stood out.

Every character spoke in the same voice, with the same phrasings, with the same inflections which, normally, is something I take an issue with. But strangely, here, I didn’t mind it. Perhaps because it’s so much slice of life, with farming and the focus on the forming of friendships? The writing is smooth and the book is easy to read. It’s was a pleasant way to while away an evening, and despite how much I wish there was a world beneath Jake’s feet, or a stronger distinction between the characters, I did enjoy the book.

If you’re looking for a light, no-stress, no-angst read where a decent person ends up being rewarded for being kind, you might enjoy this book. But if you’re looking for something more character driven or more plot driven, you might be left wanting. Still, if you give this book a try, I do hope you like it!

Just a note: while potatoes are tasty and wonderful … potato flowers, even candied, are not. They are, in fact, quite poisonous, so please don’t eat them, and please don’t give them to children.