By Yui and Satsuki Sheena. Released in Japan as “Mushikaburi-hime” by Ichijinsha Bunko Iris NEO. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Alyssa Niioka.
Boy, remember when this was a fluffy little puff of a light novel series? Those days are gone for good now, as this book continues its slide into the dark side of things, mostly as it seems the only two people in the world who want Chris and Elianna to get married are Chris and Elianna. There is a possible war going on that both sides seem to want, the Ashen Nightmare has hit the Royal Palace, there’s a woman going around giving out placebos who really wants to be the one to give Chris an heir, and Elianna is forced to disguise herself as a boy and negotiate tragic backstories as she desperately tries to find the one book that can help them figure out a way to cure this disease… and then things get REALLY bad. There’s just a lot going on, and if you were expecting things to end nicely in this book, well, sorry. That said, it’s good writing, and I was drawn into it throughout.
A large chunk of this is from Chris’s perspective, and he holds up a lot better than I would have expected given that the last book ended with him hearing about Elianna going missing. Turns out he suspected something like this might happen. Even worse, there are many, many traitors around, some of whom are old friends of his. This isn’t even getting into the group that wants war, or the group that wants him on the throne but married to someone else. And, given the King is now deathly ill, that group is starting to hammer on things really hard. Oh yes, and there’s the delegation from Maldura, who also have their own agenda involving Chris, and who are really there to see Elianna… who, much to their annoyance, isn’t there. Oh, and did I mention that there’s a cool new gemstone that might be CAUSING this new outbreak?
As for Elianna, she is pretty much herself, and what little comedy there is in this volume comes from the various characters talking about how boyish and unsexy she is, and her deadpan, but irritated on the inside, reactions to this. (There is also the short story towards the end, taking place in happier times, where she and her friends investigate a haunted house and learn of its tragic past.) She too is having to deal with many problems, including the person who has the book she’s looking for, whose son was scapegoated by the Royal Family years ago, and therefore gets someone ELSE saying “you must first say you will never marry Prince Chris”. The ending is not exactly a cliffhanger in terms of danger, but it is very much one in terms of “the thing we were hoping would solve everything is now gone, and we are screwed”. It really makes you want to read the next book.
Bad news about that, alas. This came out in early 2019 in Japan, and there’s been nothing since. The webnovel it’s based on has only recently started moving slowly forward again, and the author is notorious for being slow. So… hope you enjoyed this one, as it’s gonna be a while. That said, this was a decent book, though somewhat low on puffball princess antics. She only tilts her head in confusion twice!