Sometimes you find a book that, against all odds, ends up being a surprise favorite. For me, By the Grace of the Gods, Volume 1 by Roy is one of those books.
The novel starts out as a standard isekai/reborn-in-another-world story, with the main character dying and appearing before the gods of a fantasy world, who determine where he’ll be placed in his afterlife. The thing that sets this character, Ryoma, apart from others, is that when he learns he’s died, he’s pretty chill about it. His response is essentially, “Welp, I’m a 40-year-old Japanese salaryman and even younger coworkers have died from the stress of our job, so honestly I’m just glad I made it this long.”
To which the gods say, “OMG That’s sad. We’re going to give you a good life.”
Ryoma is thus reincarnated as a 10-year-old boy who lives out in the woods away from all human contact and just spends his time chilling and researching slime monsters. When he finally does encounter people – by accident – they’re good people, and they take him to the city, where he finds that, by the standards of this world, his slime research is actually pretty revolutionary, such that he’s able to use it to save the city from a pandemic!
The storytelling is very relaxed; even the climax where he saves the city is hilariously chill. There’s no anime-style action here. Ryoma literally realizes the presence of a potential disease by noticing that the disease resistance of his cleaning slimes has risen – a consequence of exposure and adaptation – and saves the city from that illness by using his slimes to clean the public toilets where it’s thriving.
Yes, the whole climax of the book is “Main character cleans toilets.”
And yet, the utter chillness of his book is what makes it so appealing. This was my nighttime before-bed read, and the leisurely pace of the plot and charming positivity of the characters made it one of the most stress-relieving books I’ve ever read.
It’s also absolutely wholesome. General kindness of the entire cast aside, there’s not even a hint of a scantily clad character or sexy thought (in contrast to most other light novels), which makes it a safe recommendation for preteens and younger.
Finally, for those who enjoy LitRPG and stats, its stat system is simple and easy to keep up with, and Ryoma’s slime research is truly interesting to read about. (Different slimes serve different functions, and he uses them to interesting effect.)
All in all, By the Grace of the Gods, Volume 1 is a delightful surprise of a novel, and I recommend it highly to anyone looking for an easy, relaxing read.