By Satoru Yamaguchi and Nami Hidaka. Released in Japan as “Otome Game no Hametsu Flag Shika Nai Akuyaku Reijou ni Tensei Shite Shimatta…” by Ichijinsha Bunko Iris. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Marco Godano.
I get the sense that the publisher may be telling the author “can we start to move towards the ending, however little”, because the first half of this book has Katarina finally admit out loud… and more importantly, admit to Jeord and Keith… that the reason she has been bouncing off their love confessions is not because she doesn’t like them or is afraid of their advances. Nor is it because love is not something that she can feel. It’s because she’s gotten so completely fixated on “if I fall in love I will turn into the Katarina of the game and get jealous and evil” that love terrifies her. As explanations go, it’s not too bad, and works within the confines of the series. She still puts them off, saying she has something she needs to do first. That being avoid the ending off Fortune Lover 2. That said, it’s no surprise that fans of Jeord and Keith loved the spoilers for this book much more than everyone else.
Of course, just because Katarina’s love life may be closer to resolution does not mean we still don’t have lots of plot points dangling. The mad relative in the attic that Katarina keeps running into when she visits the palace insists that she’s leading all her love interests on. And the King also wants to discuss Maria and Katarina’s grimoires, but also tell them about the kingdom’s bloody and brutal past, just in case. Fortunately, both handle it well. The second half of the book forcuses on Dewey, who is dealing with both a crush on Maria and guilt stemming from his family back home. The two come together when a letter calls Dewey home and Maria and Katarina follow along… along with Larna, who has her suspicions. Turns out Dewey’s upbringing manages to be even worse than Maria’s. Can Katarina work her magic? Or, for once, is this a job for someone else?
As with all books since the end of “Season 2”, if you’re a fan of Mary or Sophia, you really should give up (and you probably have, judging by what I see on Tumblr). Fortunately, as with the rest of the series, Maria is an exception. Here we see how, as with Katarina, she too is maturing. Sometimes this comes across when she deftly rebuffs any attempts to date her – Dewey asking her out to lunch becomes “and Katarina will come too” so fast it was stunning. She knows who she likes. More to the point, after resolving her relationship with her mother, and gaining confidence from simply being around Katarina, she’s able to try to resolve things with her father, who has been doing the old “I will make them look good by making myself look bad” shtick. That said… boy, that resolution took five seconds. A bit more conflict might have made more impact.
So even as Jeord fans rub their hands gleefully, and Mary fans bite their handkerchiefs, the series itself is caught up with Japan, and Book 12 is not scheduled yet. So it will be a while. Till then, enjoy Katarina using empathy as a superpower again.