The Executioner and Her Way of Life is a light novel series written by Mato Sato and illustrated by nilitsu. It is, in the author’s own words, “a grimdark, chic, spy-action fantasy with female protagonists.”
Something worth noting: Mato Sato won the grand prize of the 11th Annual GA Bunko Awards with this light novel.
Yen Press licensed the light novel series for an English release.
Beware of the wolf in sheep’s clothing…
The “lost one” are wanderers who stumble onto this planet from “Japan,” a country in some distant world, seemingly bringing disaster and calamity in their wake. The role of exterminating Otherworlders falls to Menou, a young Executioner always on the prowl for this forbidden interlopers. When she meets Akari, it seems like just another job… until she discovers the girl is impossible to kill! Menou schemes to lure her target out of the city, and Akari is more than happy to tag along! So begins a journey that will change Menou’s life forever…
Sato Mato calling this story a mash-up of their interests calls to mind another light novel series that is also considered “grimdark”: kiki’s ROLL OVER AND DIE: I Will Fight for an Ordinary Life with My Love and Cursed Sword!. Funnily enough, both light novels are simply by authors writing what they like. I admire that a great deal; it’s great to see that kind of thing. ROLL OVER AND DIE is the darker of the two, though.
The Executioner and Her Way of Life takes your typical isekai set up – someone from our world being summoned into a different world – and then drives a dagger right through its skull. Our main protagonist, Menou, is a resident of this fantasy world, and her job is to eliminate everyone who gets isekai’d into it.
The prologue for this light novel does make it seem like you’re getting the bog standard boring male character isekai experience, but keep reading and you’re in for a treat. That moment in the prologue confirmed to me that I would enjoy this light novel a lot.
Things only get better as the light novel progresses, too. There are four important characters in this light novel. I’ve already mentioned Menou, who has had quite the arduous past.
Second is Akari, one of the Otherworlders Menou is supposed to hunt down. She’s a little different from the norm, though, with the whole not being able to be killed thing. On first glance, you’d believe Akari is naive, but there’s glimpses of something interesting underneath the surface as the plot progresses.
The third character is Menou’s aide, Momo. Momo loves Menou. There is no plainer way to put it. She possesses an incredible power, but only those who would threaten Menou get to witness her at full strength.
Finally, there is Ashuna, who feels only tangentially connected to the plot. It’s quite a shame, because she pulls off some impressive feats. Unfortunately, she only ever crosses paths with Momo – which is done entirely on purpose. Hopefully we’ll see more from her in future volumes.
I like the four main characters a lot. All four girls shine, and Menou even has two of them indirectly competing over her. Menou, Momo and Ashuna have some impressive fight scenes, and I’ve already mentioned how Akari might not be as naive as she appears.
The plot for this first light novel is effectively about Menou and Akari’s journey to Garm, the ancient capital. Supposedly that is where Menou will be able to carry out her mission. Their journey there is not an easy one, having to contend with terrorists and someone manipulating things from behind the scenes. Sure is a thrilling journey, though.
Between each chapter are interludes, revealing bits and pieces of Menou’s past, and the one event that defined the route her life has taken. Her childhood was far from an easy one, but she did meet Momo because of her choices.
In The Executioner and Her Way of Life, certain people are able to use something similar to magic: they call it conjuring. There’s a fair bit of exposition about how that works, and add in passages being recited, it does kind of slow things down a bit. I guess that goes to show that conjuring is a complicated process, and a single magic word will not suffice.
Even so, I really enjoyed reading this light novel. Seems like Sato Mato’s mash-up of interests align very well with my own. So, if you’re looking for a grimdark, chic, spy-action fantasy with female protagonists, The Executioner and Her Way of Life is something that I heartily recommend.