by Tomomi Yamashita; adapted by Ikoi Hiroe
published by DC/CMX Manga; $9.99 US
A princess needs a healer, who turns out to be a childhood friend become an apothecary. She’s a headstrong tomboy, but Argent is the man who knew her when. He’s also a living toxin, immune to poison but with a killing touch. That kind of irony — the master healer brings life although he’s walking death — underlies the book’s plots, providing multiple layers.
The princess loves food, to the point of overeating, but it’s only because of his previous job as her food taster. She is who she is because of him. And he does symbolic things like give her medicine that instantly makes her feel better, but only if she can stand the bitter taste, thus teaching her the rewards of sometimes doing something you don’t want to do. The relationship is classic love/hate spatting, with the added frisson of being kept physically apart because of his chemistry.
She calls him when she doesn’t need him, just because she enjoys his presence, but when she’s really sick, she doesn’t want to bother him, preferring instead to muddle through herself (although he’s always there when she needs him). I like her full-of-life attitude and determination. She’s kept just the right side of headstrong, with admirable motives for what she does.
Apothecarius Argentum is an appealing fantasy romance with distinctive characters, both visually and in personality. It’s the story of how two independent people learn to allow themselves to depend on someone special to them while helping others. I’d like to read more. (A complimentary copy for this review was provided by the publisher.)