Book Review: Spice & Wolf Volume 18

Spice & Wolf Volume 18 cover

I hope everyone had a good week, and are getting excited for the weekend that is about to begin.

Things are going fairly well, though they could always be better, and I can still do something that I enjoy.

As most of you should be aware of, I had gotten four books from Amazon during my break, all of which are from the same series, and I covered each one individually until one title remained.

Today, I will be reviewing that title, which is called Spice & Wolf Volume 18 by Isuna Hasekura.

As I have given a series synopsis in an earlier post, I will not go over it again.

Spice & Wolf, the bathhouse, has finally opened and Lawrence and Holo are enjoying their time there, with new friends and a family.

However, some time after Col and Myuri, the daughter of Lawrence and Holo, leave on a journey of their own, Nyohhira is threatened by the possible emergence of a new town and the two must find a way to ensure the survival of their new home, as well as keep Spice &nWolf running smoothly and customers happy.

After the travesty that was the previous volume, I was ready to completely give up on this series, because the journey was over and Isuna Hasekura and everyone involved seemed to only be milking the series, but I am not a person that is not willing to give more chances to others, before giving up.

And, after reading this, I must say that I was pretty impressed.

From the moment that I opened up this book and started reading it, I did not want to put it down for any reason, though I do have to satisfy the same needs as every other human being.

Back in the previous book in the series, things seemed to be rather uneventful and dull and I just could not get into many of the stories featured, even though it was the true conclusion to the series, because the charm of the series was not there and Isuna's writing style was not that engaging either, to the point where everything felt like a waste of time.

While I am perfectly well aware that Spice & Wolf is not a fast paced series, I was expecting a lot better because Isuna was providing almost everything that a slow paced series needed to be good, in addition to the most basic things that readers want to see in most of the 13 books that dealt with the journey Lawrence and Holo went.

Fortunately, now that Isuna has been away from the series for a while, seeing as the afterword says that this was released five years after the abomination of an epilogue that was the 17th book, he seemed to be in top form by actually pulling me into world of Spice & Wolf and sparked my interest in what Lawrence and Holo were up to in Nyohhira.

This is what I expected to see back in the series epilogue, because this is how the series deserves to end, and while the epilogue failed, Isuna is finally able to deliver that in a book that was supposedly released at the same time as the Japanese edition as the first installment of Wolf & Parchment, according to what I could dig up, though it is not reliable enough to link to.

If Isuna had delivered this back in the last book, I would have been much more excited to read this volume than I was going into it, instead of expecting to be proven right that I had made a mistake in purchasing the four books in the series that Yen Press recently released, and I would have liked it even more than I do, though I do not hate it at all right now.

Then again, I would not have been able to prove to myself that my expectations of nothing, except a decent story, for any book or anime were the right path and the adage that things are only as good as we think they are going into it is a flawed belief, just like everything else we come up with is flawed, so I have to give Isuna a major round of applause for really stepping up his game this time.

Hopefully, Wolf & Parchment turns out to be just as good as this, because it makes me want to take back everything I said in my review of the previous volume, though it does not change the fact that it truly was a terrible book.

I also liked how there were a few things to laugh about.

While, yet again, the comedic moments are not that unique, when compared to the rest of the series or anime and manga in general, the comedic moments were still executed well enough to find them funny and help bring a lively atmosphere back to a world that desperately needed it.

One of the things that I hated about the last book, other than a writing style that failed to get me engaged and some lack of being able to create images in my mind, which was not as bad as what I did complain about, was that there was nothing really that made me laugh.

Slow paced series, like this one, tend to focus a whole lot more on the average lives of the characters than fast paced stories, though that does not mean fast paced stories lack in the area of character development, which many Hollywood movies seem to lack these days, and that means that those lives must be as interesting as the actual plot.

One of the ways to do that is to incorporate humor, and, like most of the series up until now, Isuna was able to deliver in this volume.

This is the Spice & Wolf that I know and grew to like, and I actually feel like giving him another nice round of applause.

If he can keep this up in Parchment & Wolf and other future works, I might just be able to forget the horrid experience he delivered in World End Economica, because this series was good enough to make me change my opinion of him quite a bit, but I must remind myself that Isuna is only human, just like the rest of us.

Another thing that I liked was how this book just felt like one huge story.

With Spice & Wolf being officially over, I was expecting to get just around round of short stories and a novella, as there does not really seem to be too much left to be explored in the world of the series, and that was exactly what I got here.

However, unlike many of the other short story collections, most of the stories here seemed to be connected to each other through the possible threat of yet another village that focuses on bathhouses sprouting up and all the things that Lawrence and the other try to do to ensure Nyohhira's survival.

Most short story collections I come across have multiple stories that start and stop right up until the last story, which makes them easy to pick up or put down whenever necessary, though they might share things in common.

Here, I did not feel like there was that break between stories and it led to a truly unique experience, even if this might not be the first book in history that has done something like this, since I have not read every book in the world, and, at this point, I kind of want to take a break from reviewing books and focus on anime for a bit, though that does not mean I have grown bored of reading.

I am not sure if this is going to be the next stage of evolution of writing prose fiction, but I sure hope to see something like this again in the future, because this is much more enjoyable than not being able to see how various stories are connected, and it makes me want to give Isuna another nice round of applause.

The thing that I liked the most though was how I actually felt like I had fun reading this.

As I have stated many times already, people enjoy reading because it helps them escape reality, and they can enjoy things more when the book that they read feel like fun, as opposed to more work, as there are people out there that read for a living, just like the big name writers write for living.

While everything wrong with the previous installment in Spice & Wolf led to it lacking this necessary fun factor, this book brought it all back and made me happy that I had at least stuck with the series for as long as I did, though I am not too certain I would the 19th volume at this point, should Yen Press ever release it.

The part that provided the most fun was the final story in this volume, which more of felt like flashback.

In that story, even though Holo and Lawrence do not appear as much as the do in the rest of the book, I was reminded of why I liked this series so much by seeing the interactions between Col and Myuri, who are the protagonists of Wolf & Parchment, and how Myuri seemed to mess around like a child.

Even though I would have still found this book fun to read had this story, the only one that seems to be its own, since the matter with the new village got settled by this point, I do not think that it would have left an impression on me as it did with this story, and it makes me want to Isuna a bit more applause, since he did not make the series any worse and he gave me a good reason to check out Wolf & Parchment when it gets released where I live.

Outside of those things, I cannot think of anything else that I particularly liked, at least that could stand out its own and not spoil more than I already have.

Because my interest was captured and held throughout the entire book, things were finally funny again, most of the stories seemed to be just one huge story, and this made me feel like I was having fun, this was one of the best books I have read so far.

Although I liked the book, there are some issues.

However, aside from things that are too minor to talk about, such as typos, nothing really seemed to bother me too much.

As a result, I will have to say that there is nothing worth mentioning.

Considering how there was so much to like, especially how it delivered what should have been present in the series epilogue, this was definitely worth reading.

I mainly recommend this to fans of Spice & Wolf, because they will like this the most.

As for everyone else, this might be worth giving a try, since the series is already over and this just a collection of shorts, but you probably will not have as much fun reading this as Spice & Wolf fans.

If you liked this review and would like to see more, please consider supporting me on Patreon or buying the reviewed title from Amazon, so that I can see if the Wolf & Parchment series will be as good as this and possibly find more worthwhile reads for you guys, and do whatever you do when you find something that impresses you.

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Copyright © 2015 Bryce Campbell. All Rights Reserved.