By Miya Kazuki and You Shiina. Released in Japan as “Honzuki no Gekokujou: Shisho ni Naru Tame ni wa Shudan wo Erandeiraremasen” by TO Books. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by quof.
(This review contains more spoilers than usual. I’ll try to keep the big ones to after the cover art.)
To my annoyance, the book starts off with a scene between the villains, each trying to prove that among the sneering evil bastards, they are the MOST sneering evil bastards. To my relief, it’s all uphill from there – as always, Bookworm’s books are long but they feel like they’re too short. Myne is trying to get her kid’s picture books off the ground, which involves experimenting with colored ink as well as getting new wax for their stencils. the second quarter of the book has a lot of the arts and crafts we’ve come to love from this series. (It also has the author, in probably the funniest part of the book, write in “Myne and Lutz as an adult married couple” and have it be DEAD ON.) Unfortunately, right at the start of the book an abandoned baby arrives at the orphanage, and Myne, trying to convince a reluctant Delia to care for it with the others, makes a big deal of Delia being the child’s big sister. This sets off a terrifying change of events that will shake up the lives of everyone – and result in a major fatality.
Though we’re not quite going to be leaving the temple yet, I suspect this may be the last we see of Delia as a major character. I had wondered if Myne would ever manage to win her over to betraying the high bishop, and sadly the answer is “not really”, though this isn’t helped by everyone keeping secrets from Delia because… well, she’s a spy. At least she avoids execution. Indeed, this book is filled with executions and threats of executions galore, and it’s a reminder of just how dark this world can be when it’s not about “hey, let’s make paper!”, and when the archduke is pondering whether it would be easier to simply have Myne’s family executed, you get the chills. Fortunately, Myne has her fingers in too many pies to make this really feasible, especially given that her printing press is the proverbial genie that cannot be put back in the bottle. No, instead of everyone around Myne getting executed, the simplest thing is for Myne to die.
And so we end this arc, with Myne dead. Fortunately, we have a new heroine in Rozemyne, who is the hidden daughter of a noble adopted by the archduke, and who happens to look, talk and act just like… OK, yes, Rozemyne is Myne, something most people are immediately made aware of. But the cover story is very important, and the scene where Myne has to say goodbye to her family as a family is heartbreaking. We know they’ll meet again (if anything else, I’ve seen Tulli on a few book covers coming up), but it’s not the same. Indeed, the cover story is magical, to the point where even Myne’s magical contracts change names. As for the Archduke himself… well, I admit, I didn’t see the reveal coming, though others may disagree. Certainly he helps to rescue Myne in the nick of time from a hideous fate. We’ll see how the double act holds up in the next arc. (The book proper ends about 2/3 in, and we get some very good post-Myne short stories, including some subtleties in regards to the High Priest’s aide, and how his seething cauldron of anger is not as secret as he’d like.)
The next arc is titled ‘Adopted Daughter of an Archduke’, and as such I expect a lot of noble life, probably some bullying – Rozemyne will likely find it hard. That said, she’s now in a majorly important position, the daughter of the MOST important man, and as we saw here, has enough mana in her to whip up a prayer to 5 or 6 gods, all at once, and have it work fine. No need to worry, even if Myne has left us, Rozemyne should be just fine. This was an excellent volume in the series, despite the “I am eviler than the most evil person!” villains.