Fifteen-year-old Anne is traveling to the capital to participate in the annual Royal Candy Fair to become a Silver Sugar Master like her recently departed mother. However, the quickest way to get there is on the Bloody Highway, so she’ll need an escort. Unable to secure human guards, Anne visits the fairy slave market to find a warrior fairy. She doesn’t like the practice of fairy slaves, but she’s desperate. On her way to the market, Anne ends up freeing a small worker fairy whose owner was making a spectacle in the street and almost killed the fairy. At the fairy market, there’s only one available warrior fairy and his tongue might be sharper than his blade.
Anne tries to become friends with her new fairy companion, Challe, but the power dichotomy prevents this and he tells her that as long as she is in possession of his wing (humans rip off one of the fairy’s wings when captured to control them since their wings act like their life force) he will have to obey her, but nothing more, and that she’s a fool for expecting anything else. On their journey, Anne discovers that the freed fairy, Mithril Lid Pod, has stowed away in her wagon. The three of them face bandits and a massive crow attack before making it to a waystation that’s safe.
This first volume excels at balancing story progression and world building. There’s still a lot more to learn, but I felt like I understood each character’s motivation and the basics of how the world functions and the characters’ places in it. Having already watched the first season of anime (and eagerly awaiting season two this July on Crunchroll), I knew where the story was going. But that didn’t lessen my enjoyment at all. (One interesting note, the English translation of the manga refers to fancy or pretty fairies as “pet fairies” while the anime subtitles called them “companion fairies.”)
The illustrations have a wonderful fairy tale feel to them to match the story, with enough detail to convey emotion and setting without overwhelming the reader with too much extraneous information. The delicate detail work on the sugar creations is particularly exquisite and showcases the fragile quality with only black and white illustrations.
Sometimes the first volume in a manga series is entirely setup without a lot of space for character growth, but this series does not fit that norm. Anne, Challe, and even Mithril Lid Pod all show growth by the end of the volume with Anne showing the most growth as she learns to take responsibility and assert herself. This is clearly a series to watch and I imagine the light novels are as well. I highly recommend this series for any library that collects manga and would hand it to any preteen or early teen reader interested in personal growth, journeys, or the fae.
Sugar Apple Fairy Tale Vol. 01
By Miri Mikawa
Art by YozoranoUdon Hollendonner
Yen Press, 2023
Publisher Age Rating: 13+
Related media: Anime
NFNT Age Recommendation: Teen (13-16), Tween (10-13)
Creator Representation: Japanese