By Akumi Agitogi and Tsukiho Tsukioka. Released in Japan as “Watashi no Shiawase na Kekkon” by Fujimi L Bunko. Released in North America Yen On. Translated by David Musto.
There is generally a habit in books, whether they’re “mysteries” or not, of trying to conceal a surprise twist. Keep the audience guessing, don’t let them figure out what the twist is until it’s too late. In practice, this is quite hard to pull off, and tends to lead to rolling of the eyes once the big reveal happens. As such, I always appreciate when a book doesn’t bother to do that and just says “let’s give it away on page 1”. Which is exactly what happens here, as there’s a traitor in the group that’s trying to protect Miyo, and the number of people tat it could possibly be amounts to one person. So we see that person approached by the villain immediately, in a prologue, and know who it is. Which is good, as it can then help with that this author really IS good at, which is giving readers an ulcer as they wait for the bad things to inevitably happen.
We pick up where we left off last time, with Miyo and Kiyoka beset by a man who claims to be her real father, and is also really, really smugly evil. Now Miyo can’t be left on her own , so she starts going to work and coming home with Kiyoka every day. She also gets a bodyguard, Kaoruko, one of the few women in the military in what is a very misogynistic unit. This means that Miyo has to deal with a) all the other members of the unit badmouthing Kaoruko and telling her to stay in the kitchen, and b) the fact that Miyo is associated with a family no one trusts and everyone seems to despise. You get the sense that the title of the series is getting further and further away, especially as they’re still not actually married yet.
So yeah, this book runs on dread. Not the dread of a horror novel, but the dread of a book about an abused daughter who is still viewing herself as the absolute worst being attacked on all sides. She has Kiyoka, who does the best he can, but she really needs more allies. Sadly, the one friend she makes, Kaoruko, turns out to be one of Kiyoka’s former potential fiancees, and clearly still has feelings for him, which sends Miyo into another spiral of self-loathing. Now, she does get one scene late in the book where she stands up and lets the sexist soldiers have it, but it’s sort of like eating a riceball made of needles in order to get to the tasty plum inside. Why read the series at all? The needles are also VERY tasty. This author knows how to write depression, anxiety, and melancholy, and Miyo is an extremely well-drawn woman.
So yes, we’re still not happy, and one subplot hints that we may see more double (triple?) agents. But this is still really good angst. The anime debuts next week, and should be exquisitely painful.