Book Reviews

Review: A Magical Girl Retires by Park Seolyeon & translated by Anton Hur

A Magical Girl Retires turns fantasy tropes on their head. It manages to balance depth and whimsy in just under 200 pages. If you’ve been intrigued by more translated fiction, this is for you. Keep reading this book review of A Magical Girl Retires for my full thoughts.


Twenty-nine, depressed, and drowning in credit card debt after losing her job during the pandemic, a millennial woman decides to end her troubles by jumping off Seoul’s Mapo Bridge.

But her suicide attempt is interrupted by a girl dressed all in white—her guardian angel. Ah Roa is a clairvoyant magical girl on a mission to find the greatest magical girl of all time. And our protagonist just may be that special someone.

But the young woman’s initial excitement turns to frustration when she learns being a magical girl in real life is much different than how it’s portrayed in stories. It isn’t just destiny—it’s work. Magical girls go to job fairs, join trade unions, attend classes. And for this magical girl there are no special powers and no great perks, and despite being magical, she still battles with low self-esteem. Her magic wand . . . is a credit card—which she must use to defeat a terrifying threat that isn’t a monster or an intergalactic war. It’s global climate change. Because magical girls need to think about sustainability, too.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

My first impression of A Magical Girl Retires was a playful reimagining of classic fairy tale and fantasy tropes. We have the Chosen One, a magical quest, and the power within us. But within this novella, Seolyeon explores what it can feel like to be seen. To have this potential people haven’t recognized yet be finally appreciated. That’s why part of the ‘let down’ is so heartbreaking, because I think we’ve all been in her shoes. With whimsical illustrations, A Magical Girl Retires balances the line of seriousness and self-reflection.

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It’s easy to get lost in A Magical Girl Retires. The depth works in its favor in some ways. The pages, and action, quickly move by. But there were a few elements I wish had more space to expand, particularly the resolution. As a whole, A Magical Girl Retires is a book about the consequences of ambition, of wanting, and the necessity for balance. Find A Magical Girl Retires on Goodreads, Storygraph, Amazon,, Blackwells, & Libro. fm.


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