By Kujira Tokiwa and Yu-nagi. Released in Japan as “Eris no Seihai” by GA Novels. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Winifred Bird.
Boy howdy, this wrapped everything up just the way I wanted. OK, I admit, there was not enough Abigail, but I’ve come to terms with that. (And we also get Kimberly Smith, who is James Bond, as the author admits, and also wonderful.) And unfortunately the plot demanded that Connie essentially be stuck in a cell for the latter half of the book. But this actually turns out to be important as it allows us to see that a) everyone around her knows what a good and forthright person she is, and b) it allows Scarlett to have to take action on her own, rather than just stand behind Connie and snark (and occasionally possess her). And while we don’t get Abigail, we do get her daughter Lucia, who is made of 100% pure awesome and who I desperately want to see a sequel series about. She even has her own sidekick! Who is a foreign prince, sure, but let’s not sweat the details.
After discovering the truth of why Scarlett was executed ten years ago, Connie and Randolph go off to confront Scarlett’s father. That said, knowing this doesn’t actually CHANGE anything. Especially as Ulysses’ kidnapping is coming closer and closer to bringing nations to war. Not to mention that Princess Cecilia is still around. Oh yes, and Abigail’s daughter Lucia is also accidentally kidnapped, and added to the pile of children in danger. Connie is very good at running around, finding clues, and getting into trouble, which is what’s needed to find the real culprits… which is why the culprits decide to blame her for the kidnapping, lock her up, and execute her. Problem solved! Except that, unlike Scarlett ten years ago, everyone adores Connie…
By the way, if you are looking for a series with kickass women in it, this is a great choice. Even the villains kick ass, and get dramatic yet thematically appropriate death scenes. The throne war in the neighboring kingdom ends in a way that made me laugh, and also want to go back and read the second book again. The little ‘Character biographies’ that appear throughout the book, designed to read like otome game bios where they update as events happen, are laugh out loud hilarious. The climactic finale is heartwarming and heartbreaking. If there’s one flaw here it’s that I think the author and publisher wanted to leave room for a sequel, so we get a somewhat tacked on addition near the end, featuring the very first thorn in Connie’s side returning like Sadako. But I’ll forgive it, if only as it leads to what is essentially a polyamorous marriage. One man, one woman, and one ghost, as God intended.
The series ends here, but there is a fourth volume in Japan that has a sequel, with Connie and company going to the land of Scarlett’s late mother. However… it only came out in Japan digitally. I highly doubt that GA Novels would let Yen release a print book when Japan hasn’t, and I doubt Yen would license a digital-only 4th volume. So I suspect this is it. Oh well. Great finale, great series. Highly recommended for fans of thrillers.