- Format: light novel
- Author: kiki
- Illustrator: kinta
- Translator: Jason Muell
- Publisher’s website
As an unashamed fan of both fantasy and yuri, Roll Over and Die is squarely in my wheelhouse.
The novel manages to be an interesting mix of adhering to and rejecting fantasy light novel clichés. It starts off stereotypically: There’s a party of heroes, including sixteen-year-old protagonist Flum Apricot, who are setting out to save the world from the demon lord. The world features RPG-like stats and “save points” for teleportation. The protagonist is part of the party because prophecy demands it. Our first clue that something is different is when the protagonist turns out to be completely powerless: all her stats are zero. The second clue is when, at the end of the first chapter, her party gets rid of her by selling her into slavery.
This sets the tone for the rest of the book – this is very definitely a dark title. Slavery, of course, is its own common cliché in fantasy light novels. However, since this is not an isekai, the protagonist can be forgiven for accepting it as a normal part of the world. Fortunately, Flum is able to break herself out of slavery after picking up the eponymous cursed sword. Her captor expects it to kill her; instead, it ends up boosting her stats, to where she can free herself and another survivor, Milkit.
Milkit has been a slave her whole life; she thinks solely in terms of pleasing her master. She’s at a loss when given a chance to go free. Recognizing this, Flum decides to make herself Milkit’s new master, with the hope of being able to wean her into a more self-sufficient mindset.
Complicating this is the fact that Flum has fallen in love with Milkit. (Or perhaps just fallen in lust? The meeting-to-relationship timeframe is very quick, but perhaps not unusual for someone her age.) As you would expect from the master/slave relationship, and their short time together, their romantic relationship is hardly healthy. Fortunately Flum recognizes that, but whether they can make it healthy is yet to be seen. (Or indeed if she even wants to…)
Once together, the author again takes refuge in cliché by making Flum an adventurer in order to be able to provide for the pair. The back half of the book is focused on Flum’s second quest, and some unfortunate events that happen during it. There’s some interesting worldbuilding here, although going into detail risks spoiling the reader. Probably the best way to summarize it is that while the present doesn’t have anything worth detailing, I’m intrigued by some of the backstory and look forward to finding out more in future volumes.
The author says in the afterword that the book is “meant for a pretty niche audience”. I think the audience is a bit wider than they suggest; I don’t think you need to be a yuri or horror fan to enjoy the book. But the (dark) fantasy clichés are prevalent enough that if you’re not a fantasy fan already you’ll probably find it hard to get through. There’s not much romance, and what’s there is decidedly not fluffy. But I enjoyed it, and will continue reading the series. ⭐⭐⭐⭐, Recommended for fantasy fans.