By Hibiki Yamazaki and Tetsuhiro Nabeshima. Released in Japan as “Konyaku Haki kara Hajimaru Akuyaku Reijou no Kangoku Slow Life” by Enterbrain. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Sean McCann.
While I did very much enjoy this second volume and the series, I want to emphasize once again that this is a bit of a mess. The entire cast is filled with terrible, terrible people. The resolution basically amounts to “the king and queen finally come home and stop everything”. And every time that we get a scene that wasn’t in the original webnovel (which is to say one that is not focusing on Rachel in prison) it’s well written but jars terribly with everything else. Margaret’s past as a child, selling flowers on the side of a road, avoiding pedophiles, and living with sex workers trying to marry into royalty, honestly makes me want a bit more for her. The author says in the afterword that Margaret has “gumption but nothing else”, but gumption can get you far. In the end, though I think accidentally, the books read more as “you can be the worst person imaginable and it’s fine as long as you’re rich”. Which, well, current mood of world.
The plot is the same as the first book, though honestly some of the events seem to strain… not disbelief, but I think they show the author was grasping at straws. Elliott and company try to torment Rachel with terrible music, but she merely grabs a trumpet and forces them to play to her own rhythm, in a metaphor so obvious it smacks you in the head. She also has her pet monkey arrive from home, which leads to as many shenanigans as you can imagine a monkey running around the royal palace can have. Meanwhile, Elliott’s allies are being cut down one by one… possibly literally in the case of Sykes, whose fiancee turns out to be one of the few times I will actually use the word yandere in a review. That said, this cannot last forever, and finally Rachel’s parents and the King and Queen arrive to stop Elliott. But can they get Rachel to leave her cell?
The best parts of the book are the ones that show us what Rachel is really like behind all her confidence and casual cruelty. We’ve seen the shallow selfishness of Elliott and Margaret… but honestly, Rachel’s not all that much better. She can plan things out very well in the moment, but does not bother to think of consequences. What’s more, we see more people that her schtick doesn’t actually work on here… though, in keeping with the theme of the book, they’re also terrible sadists. (Word of warning, there are spanking scenes here. More than one.) In the end, she whines like a child and refuses to come out of her cozy cell where she’s been able to avoid responsibility, and ends up having to be bribed with a toy. (The toy is Margaret. Honestly, terrible as they both are, in five years or so I can see them being quite a power couple with Raymond as the beard.) Prison life is easy for a villainess, but actual life does not go as she’d like.
In the end, this book has a very, very specific readership. If you love the idea of a bitch doing horrible things to pathetic men who deserve it, you’ll love this. Two volumes honestly is a bit too many, but nevertheless I had fun.