Kusuriya no Hitorigoto

Mystery Novel Journalism
2022 Jun 06

Status in Country of Origin. One entry per line

10 LN Volumes (Ongoing)LicensedYesCompletely TranslatedNoOriginal PublisherOne entry per lineShufunotomosha

English PublisherOne entry per lineJ-Novel Club

Release FrequencyEvery 24.3 Day(s)Activity Stats[Graph]Weekly Rank:2059

Reading List[Graph]On11172Reading Lists

All Time Rank:174DescriptionLinks are NOT allowed. Format your description nicely so people can easily read them. Please use proper spacing and paragraphs.

There is a certain large country in the central plains of the mainland. In the imperial court of its emperor, there is a girl. Her name is Maomao, a pharmacist from the pleasure district, who is currently working as a maidservant in the inner palace. The girl, who surely can not be considered a beauty, is keeping a low-profile waiting for her contract to end. She is confident that she will not be visited by the emperor. During that, she learns about the short lives of the children of the emperor. Maomao, hearing that the two surviving children are critically ill, begins her investigation for the cause.

Set in the middle ages of the East, the Food Taster girl continues to solve difficult cases in the imperial court one after another.

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I was hooked after reading the translations and went on to read the original on the syosetu website. A big thank you to the translator who introduced such a great novel! I have just caught up to the latest chapter so I though I would like to share some thoughts on this novel.

I really enjoy this mystery novel because it is not overly dramatic or tragic despite being mostly set in the imperial court. Although it does have a serious overtone, the author provides enough lighthearted moments that the


I also like how the mysteries are not complex but is done in such a way that it is intertwined and ultimately has a big impact on the overall story. I find it very satisfying when everything clicks and finally makes sense. The author also explains the mysteries thoroughly so it is easy to understand. Readers who are worried about not understanding the mysteries can be reassured because all you have to do when Maomao finds something suspicious is to take note of it and wait for the author to explain it later.

Maomao is hands down one of the best s I have ever seen. She is unfriendly, poker faced, but at the same time intelligent and brave. She is definitely not the usual you see in novels, and that makes her a really fun and endearing character to view the world through. Despite her poor upbringing, she is confident and really cant care less about others who look down on her, and I find that to be really refreshing.

I also like how the side characters are given unique personalities and backstories. For example, the 4 consorts all have their turn at the spotlight, and even the Yabu doctor has his turn as well.

My favorite side character is probably Gaoshun because he is always the voice of reason and a dependable figure. And he always made me laugh when he literally transcends into godhood during certain parts of the story thanks to Jishin and Maomao...

I would say that the novel is more story oriented that romance oriented, but romance is definitely present. However, due to Maomaos personality and the environment she was brought up in, readers hoping for some light sweet and fluffy romance might be disappointed. This is not only applicable for Maomao but for other characters as well. The imperial court and the red-light district is not a place where romance blooms, and the author makes it very clear. Even when there is romance, there are also problems with differences in status.

The male lead and love interest of Maomao in this story is Jishin. And in case anyone is wondering, no, Jishin is not an eunuch and yes, he is someone very important.

There is no second male lead in this story so if you dislike seeing second male leads getting their heart broken, you can read this safely. However, the job of getting a heart broken falls onto Jishin instead... (

Jishin is definitely the most pitiable male lead I have seen thanks to Maomaos stubbornness and poker faced personality. She is able to react calmly to Jishins advances, and even misunderstands his intentions which results in various funny situations. Despite this, Jishin does not give up and continues to pursue Maomao in a way that is sticky but respectful. He also thinks highly of her capabilities and trusts her enough to the extent of trusting the people she trusts.

On the other hands, the Jishin from Maomaos point of view feels more like a troublesome boss who assigns her difficult tasks and likes to harass her.

So does Maomao have feelings for Jishin? - At this point (c160), I dont think so. Jishin still has a long way to go...

The story is just reaching its peak and there are a lot more mysteries left to be solved so I am really looking forward to how it is going to end! I strongly recommend this to readers who like shoujo and romance, but wants a fresh breath of air.

If youre looking for a deep and introspective story that has both serious and light-hearted moments, all in the right places, this might fit your bill. The characters are three dimensional. The mysteries in this story are foreshadowed. Even the jokes are foreshadowed. The planning of this story is meticulous. The clues are all there if you know where to look. When everything clicks, it is beautiful.

be biased, being the TLer. Set in a world reminiscent of Ancient China, we follow the story through a young woman who is imprisoned within the inner palace as a simple maidservant, who yearns for the freedom she once had, and yet lives as though she is not bound by her circumstances.

She is of lowly birth, the daughter of a high-class courtesan, raised in the what is essentially the backstreets of the capital. Because of that, she isnt fazed by much. She is smart. She is humble. She is true to herself. She lives as she sees fit, not held down by the chains of name, power, and wealth. Nor does she want any of those. She knows where she stands in this society. (Of course, unbeknownst to her, or us, there is more to her than that. This is a mystery novel after all.)

It is a refreshing perspective. A breath of fresh air from all the power struggles, the jealousy and resentment, all the scheming, factions and whatnot like what you would expect from a novel set within the inner palace/imperial court.

Not that its not there, mind, but not from her. Shes an observer that gets dragged into it from the sidelines. Curiosity killed the cat, didnt it?

If you like a level-headed, smart, and rational MC then you might enjoy this one. Its also a nice change of pace that shes not participant of the in-fighting between consorts to gain Kings favor as shes simply a maid. However, she can still be considered an important figure as she became a confidant of those in power/influence (ML being one of them) due to her knowledge.

Just my two cents since no one left a review here yet. Might add more as I read into it


and see if theres any development with the male lead (it seemed like hes a eunuch but Im suspicious about his identity).

The translation. The characters. The setting. Its been a long while since Ive found another novel Ive absolutely fallen in love with and Im far from upset.

I love politics and I love tension, but this time, these kind of aspects are used to create the atmosphere rather than being the main limelight of the story. Honestly, I have no complaints. This is more of a


atmospheric story, and the problems are carefully explored and resolved, never being dragged out or rushed to solved. Taking place in ancient China, theres references to many aspects readers might fine themselves familiar with if they read CNs.

Unlike most ancient China stories (or any LNs, really) where the story rushes to the action and romance, this takes its time to build a world that feels real. At times, it feels like Im reading an actual novel instead of a LN. The characters are so down to earth and three dimensional. I absolutely love the MC. She has all the qualities I like down on paper: snarky, intelligent, cool, and calm, but after seeing so many LN butcher this character trope via OP MCs, I had my reservations. Luckily, the execution is nothing less of amazing. This applies to the rest of the cast as well proving that tropes work if theyre written well.

Theres the lingering hint of mysteries that carries throughout the story and little romance. Its subtle if you squint for it and works as a sub-plot rather than the main goal. Story and character driven, this is definitely up in my list of top-tier LNs. If its not already obvious from my praises, I highly recommend this - though if youre currently interested in OP MCs or a romance based story, skip this.

Really enjoying this so far. Maybe because of the mixed backgrounds -Ancient Chinese harem setting, Japanese author- while all the trappings are there, we arent beaten to death with all the usual tropes. (Admit it, as much as we love those stories with the sassy, brilliant woman in the harem and her romantic lead, the handsome, arrogant, domineering black-belly etc, it can get a little formulaic.)

So yeah, shes a pretty girl, and shes a medical genius, and theres a guy whos so gorgeous, it should be illegal, but


their interactions are funny without being over-dramatic, and she gets along alright in the world of the palace without everything being a matter of schemes and oneupmanship.

I look forward to more translations with delight, especially since the MTL of japanese peppered with chinese terminology is about as readable as toddler babble or divinations using chicken entrails.

Anyway, the setting of the novel has a huge influence from the Chinese novel tropes, but very surprisingly never abused them. In fact, it can be seen as a very shallow reference to popular Chinese trope but never delve deep other than just borrowing the setting.

The MC is not a subject on the power struggle of the politics, but instead gradually becomes an object of desire by different parties as her skill gets (reluctantly) known. Considering Maomaos achievements are done by goodwill (she is


not a goody-two-shoes mind you), and those in power struggle are not really evil (Just their circumstances causing them to face each other), it becomes obvious these people want Maomaos allegiance -slash- affection. While not distinctively shown, Its clearly seen there is a tension to get the ownership of Maomao, leading to hilarious situations as they try to mark her as theirs.

The MC is cute, both in personality and appearance, though she tries to downplay the latter via makeup to get under the radar. As a reader, you would probably see her as that little sister you cannot leave alone because if you do, disasters and misunderstandings awaits. The MC knows her limit, but definitely does not pull back to push things to the limit. She is a bit unhinged as well, in a cute way, (I mean cmon, she prefers to drink more poison since she thinks its not enough to get deeper analysis). In modern settings, you would probably see her as that mad scientist little sister trope, only she is the MC.

Basically, she is a very, very lovable MC. The kind which you want to hug and sit on your lap, but she tries to get away because of her personality, which makes you want to hug her more.

Its because ML want to out from his actual status (want to free), he working hard in the background, but eventually fall into more big problem than he prediction so MC always help him.

Actually I really want to see if ML in the end become emperor or not. If yes then MC can become empress and can be called very dangerous Poison Empress lol and ML will be called beautiful poison flower Emperor.

I have been searching for an ancient setting novel (be it fantasy, middle ages, or historical) where the MC didnt come from/experience our modern earth (be it past life, transported, transmigrated, reincarnated, and all that stuff).

Maomao, our female main character is a genuine person of her world. Her personality and knowledges come from years of her experiences growing up with her dad and her living environment.

The story is good, the mystery keeps you coming back for more, make you wondering and guessing especially our MC background story while she


is unraveling the royal intrigues thats happening in the palace. Through these cases we can see glimpses of her own story too.

Its the first time I read a Japanese novel that uses a Chinese ancient setting. We see terms like Inner Palace, Consorts, Concubines, King, Royal Families, and all the other terminologies from chinese ancient setting. But the influence in the novel is just that. The author just uses that to make a story and personally I find it refreshing.

I havent got the chance to read the raw even though Im itching to do because the novel is really good but from what I skim through mtl its really hard to understand (maybe cause the author uses old languages like if you see thy in English).

This novel have different take on narrating the story of harem in alternative ancient China, and written by a Japanese, which is unusual enough so some of traditional term is mixed up with Japanese. Funnily enough, the author does show influence of typical Chinese web novel in describing one particularly attractive male, throwing flowery words the translator admit is giving her hard time to come up with variation of heavenly, celestial, immortal and so on. Yet not so much when describing female characters, so rather than cringe worthy quirk like


in some Chinese novel its more of a running gag.

Also, a warning for this translation project. According to current translator, unlike typical web novel the author occasionally use

perhaps to match the setting of this story. So translating it to English is hard and the translator sometimes use awkward phrasing to match the original story. The raw text with online translator is also impossible to read due to this so no reading ahead ;_;

The main character is Mao-Mao, a pharmacist as the summary said. She is level headed, smart and snarky type of MC, and she is almost obsessed with being low key.

It gets to the point she use her make up skill to uglify herself. She is still average looking, but this is emphasized from her point of view and she described her face as neat.

The story is narrated mostly from her perspective so if you enjoy snarky monologue, this story is your cup of tea. I think what highlight this character the most is her curiosity, and yes... she is a pharmacist/doctor by trade but she is more of a researcher and a mad scientist at that as she even experiment of herself.

The possibly Male lead is a mysterious character, but its almost confirmed since he has the most interaction with her. Jishin is described by Maomao as a man so sinfully beautiful, its a shame he is a guy

*and since he can walk around in harem, she assume he is an eunuch*

but obviously high rank seems to have too much spare time to bother her. Jishin seems to have a lot of interest in her quirky personality, talent and disgust for him. Yes... this guy is pleased Maomao is creeped out by his perfection, though it doesnt stop Maomao from doing dubious errand on his behalf

Like making aphrodisiac/love poison, and very enthusiastic at it in spite of not knowing what Jishin wanted it for.

Plot wise, its a slow going as the MC act as problem solver all over the inner court. She is very knowledgeable, and doted on by her superior. Definitely not what you would expect in imperial harem kind of story, as Maomao in spite of being an odd ball isnt a domineering character at all. Theres no clear direction of where is this story head for now, but its pretty enjoyable as slice of life as it is.

The only reason Im rating this a 4 is because I have to reread the chapters multiple times to understand the story. I dont think its the fault of the translator as two translators have picked up this work and the story was still a little hard to comprehend at some points. From what Ive heard the author used traditional Japanese (if that makes any sense) and its harder to translate to English. But kudos for the plot. I like the MC and every single character ! Its a


really fun read and the plot is very unique. The story is not flowery at all as in it isnt your typical shoujo story. The romance is very little till the first arc too. Im in love with every character. The characters are nicely developed and I might be in a little bit awe of the MC. She is cute in her own poisonous way. As the story proceeds mainly in her perspective, you get to experience her unique thought process and love her some more.

This story is really good you know... I guess this is the first mystery genre that I love so much... While reading it, I felt like I became quite witty so I play chess and Sudoku 🤣🤣🤣🤣 well, I am still learning Go though....

However, I am a fan of quick-romance thus this shipping is killing me... 😭😭😭 for other people with the same symptom, I suggest you consider about that...

I came here from the manga, and I dont regret it. I love this novel so much, so yeah Im going to write a whole ESSAY here. ill write a spoiler-free review in pros and cons style:

: the murders and the mystery solving are super great. Its never a boring case, and MaoMao is super charismatic, so it makes it beven better to see her solve it. I also like how they arent isolated cases. At the time, it seems like it is only that, but


as the novel progresses you can see that theres more to those murders and theyre all connected. Super engaging.

Heck, even the slice of life is good

- There are a lot of chapters that are just maomao living in the inner palace/ setting the stage for the climax/ meeting new people, but it is super enjoyable to read too. The pacing is nice, and all the elements are well balanced, this doesnt drag out, but also doesnt make the novel feel like the events are progressing too fast

- History has a lot of ugly sh*t that most novels dont talk about, to not break the wonderlust of oh I wish I were in olden times, and because it gets complicated. And when they do write about poverty, famine or s*avery, they depict it as a very horrible thing, but dramatic and kind of isolated from the protagonists. But the authors in this novel went above and beyond. Maomao was raised in a brothel, and in as a normal peasant. So they dont romanticize history, they write about these difficult topics just like things that happen (they do condemn it, but dont pretend like it isnt a reality), because those really are commonplace things, especially at that time. For example, the novel starts with maomao getting kidnapped and sold to work at the inner palace for money, and shes never like woe is me or people are like wow this horrible thing happened to her and shes still fighting, what a gal, its just a thing that happened, and shes not special; these things happen a lot, and the book acknowledges it. This happens with other topics as well, especially related brothel life, womens life in general [the lack of options, liberties, and the dangers (r word) of existing in olden days], the power structures in the castle. This is a detail is unique to KNH (as far as the novels ive read), and it really makes a difference in making the setting more realistic.

- Okay, the biggest reason I love this novel, is maomaos personality, shes a female protagonist like no other, and I mean it. Shes such a balanced character, doesnt fall into any archetypes, and feels really real. Shes not an idiot in the ways of life. She wants to pursue her interest in medicine and is a very curious person, but never naive or dumb. Although the ML gets drawn to her because she doesnt fawn over him like the other girls, she just doesnt like his personality, but never stubbornly pretend hes not attractive (tsundere style), or straight up tells him off like there isnt a subordinate-boss relationship that she could get killed for disrespecting. Shes not super exagerated, like picking fights and getting offended everytime someone says sh*t to her, or getting super gloomy. She stands her ground when she need to, but goes with the flow and deceives people most of the time just to avoid trouble. Shes clever, practical, passionate, and although pictured as unsocial, its clear shes not cold and loves her adoptive dad and family at the brothel, and values her friendships at the inner palace.

The secondary characters are well written

. All the four high ranking consorts have different personalities, qualities, and backgrounds (makes political scheming more interesting). Gaoshun is the fun person with common sense watching two idiots, and is hilarious to read him react to the misunderstandings that happen between jinshi and maomao. The girls and the old lady in the brothel, the official whos friends with maomao, the maids, her adoptive father and real father, everyone is their own person and that makes it more interesting

1- phrases are weird sometimes - I dont know why, but this is a reocurring problem with japanese translations, so I think some meaning just gets lost in translation and that inevitable, it cant be that all jp tls are bad. Because this is a mystery-solving novel, that has a lot of detail, speculation, etc, I cant say that it doesnt interfere with the story. This is annoying, since the original writing is already kind of beating around the bush to tells us who did what, and paired with the subtext lost in translation, you end up having to read things thrice to understand.

2- The mysteries dont wrap up completely. Thats right. Things will happen, and the climax of the arc will pass, but you will still be filled with questions. I though I was just a dumbass who didnt read it right, but as I read more I realized the novel really is set up like that; sometimes that one thing that you didnt understand will be brought up unexpectedly and answered 30 chapters later lol. Im not sure if it is a con, I guess theres nothing wrong with this kind of writing? but its confusing for starters, so...

PS: the romance in this story is minimal, but I like how it is staged. Jinshi likes her personality, but for now, maomao just sees jinshi as annoying guy (but she does remark that she likes him more when hes not faking his personality, so a very good thing to build on) . This, paired with the power dynamic in their relationship (shes a maidservant, and hes kind of a big shot), creates a big gap between them.

In the first 3 volumes or so you wont get that romance vibe, their interactions are mostly played for laughs, but as you dwelve deeper into the story it starts to get more serious. You can see more of their personalities, their flaws, the things that keep them apart, their struggles, and how they awkardly stumble around clashing at times, and complementing each other at times. Too slow burn even for me tho, Im suffering from jinshi deficiency

What to say? I am not really the type that is fond of imperial court story, so I was skeptical the first time I saw this Novel. However, that all changed on a bored day of mine, with nothing to do, I just open my novel bookmarks and hey, why dont I give this a try. Damn boy, I was hooked in by the quirky main character, the way the story unfold as a mystery combined with cute moments, the side cast that stands out... In fact, this hooks me


in so much to the point that I spent like 8 hours to blink read til the latest chapter.

The only small turn down for this novel would be the translation as there are some structure faults and a little bit hard to understand in the beginning. However, the translation quality only gets better chapter by chapter, and as of the time I write this review, the quality has, though not flawless, risen to the point that is more than acceptable.

This is my favorite novel. The mad scientist Maomao, the poor Jinshi, Gaoshun, and other are characters with their stories filled with interesting things. I hope the anime gets published soon and they dont change many things from the novel for the manga and anime.

If you read the translation from Creative Novels and thought it was flat and incoherent, just a mangled mess, definitely try reading the official translation before rating the story.

Maomao is a wonderfully stoic protagonist and her steadfast approach to life is refreshing. Shes analytical and thoughtful about her actions. I really enjoyed reading from her perspective. The writing is detailed enough that I can appreciate the subtle nuances which were omitted in the translation from Creative Novels.

All the major characters work wonders to flesh out the world. They are multidimensional


and believable, with interactions that served to move the plot forward smoothly.

If you like your story with intrigue and and character development, this is for you. It really is a wonderful read. Id also recommend Saiunkoku Monogatari if you liked Apothecary Diaries. The fan english translation is not bad.

The best light novel that I have read so far~ Although the romance is slow (because female lead is oblivious) but thats what makes it super cute and all of the male leads advances are super hilarious~ LOVE IT!!

Damn this novel is really good and brilliant. I really like the main character because shes so fresh to read and the storys setting maybe cliche itself but the story is really something else.

Btw, this a selfish request but Im hoping you can upload this novels to google drive I really want to add this on my collection for things to read while traveling and idling.

Only found the manga version of this and it blew me away with its smart and practical (though eccentric) MC and realistic setting. In fact, all the characters are very well-done in terms of characterizations, motivations, reactions, etc. No one was a caricature of a personified stereotype or single-trait 2-dimensional person. Sure, some moments (mostly for slight comedic effects) were sensationalized in a cliched manner (like how people might go gaga over someones beauty or how the MC goes gaga over questionable substances), but there really werent any real mob


So, Im looking forward to reading the novel version of this even more, especially as the written version tends to be the best form of a work (in my opinion).

Really refreshing with an actually interesting MC. There is just a tad of romance here, so if you mainly came looking for it, you will be disappointed.

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