By Harunadon and Yomi Sarachi. Released in Japan as “Akuyaku Reijō to Akuyaku Reisoku ga, Deatte Koi ni Ochitanara: Nanashi no Seirei to Keiyaku Shite Oidasareta Reijō wa, Kyō mo Reisoku to Kisoiatte Iru Yō Desu” by GA Novels. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Judy Jordan.
Last time, I said I enjoyed this more than I expected because it was a lot darker than I expected. The darkness doesn’t go away in the second book, but there’s a slight problem that makes this volume not quite as enjoyable. The book is also trying to be a sweet romance between Brigitte and Yuri, and it feels a bit jarring when put next to everything else that’s happened in the book. I would normally roll my eyes at Brigitte panicking and running away from Yuri with a red face, because it’s something we see in so many shoujo romances, but here I’m thinking “well, of course, this is all related to her trauma from everything that’s happened to her since she was five”. Which, there’s nothing wrong with that, but the author clearly is NOT expecting the reader to think that. The author is writing “look, isn’t she adorable?”.
Brigitte goes to visit Yuri’s home, where she meets his family (much to his chagrin), and also his other spirit, who gives her a handy tip as to why she can’t communicate or summon her spirit: it’s a fire spirit, and after her father’s actions as a child she’s terrified of fire. She tries to solve this by getting herself used to fire despite her fear, which doesn’t really go all that well, possibly as, when she reflects on everything that has happened since that incident, it’s not fire she’s afraid of: it’s everything. (Pantophobia!) This revelation causes her magic to simply explode into a giant pillar into the sky, seen by the entire kingdom, and when it settles down, she has a spirit! OK, it looks like a tiny yellow chick, and OK, she still can’t really communicate with it. But baby steps.
Not to spoil too much, but this would appear to be the last we see of Prince Joseph in this series, and holy shit I am so glad. If the series balances too far in one direction for cutesy romance scenes with Brigitte’s embarrassment taking center stage, Joseph is the opposite direction, as everything about him is awful and creepy. It’s laid out why pretty well – he grew up not being as good as his brothers, so wanted someone “stupider” around him to feel superior towards, then he had to manipulate Brigitte’s behavior when it turned out she wasn’t what he wanted. Worse, it turns out he really DOESN’T want someone genuinely dim – i.e. Lisa (who earns a few points here by stopping an attempted murder suicide) but merely a doormat. His last scene tosses in rape threats, murder threats, and a whole lot of arson, and he absolutely gets what’s coming to him, but again – this book needs to commit. Either be dark, or be cute, but the dissonance is too strong.
That said, inevitably Joseph is not the Big Bad, the Big Bad is the cause of all this bullshit, and he’s here for the nasty cliffhanger to this volume. I guess that ensures that the dissonance isn’t going away yet. If you can put up with it, this has some strong individual scenes.