By Ichibu Saki, Nemusuke, and Ushio Shirotori. Released in Japan as “Moto, Ochikobore Koushaku Reijou desu” by Mag Garden Novels. Released in North America by J-Novel Heart. Translated by Andrew Schubauer.
When an author has a favorite character to write for, and you love that character, it’s always a treat whenever they show up. Unfortunately, when they are NOT your favorite character, it cam prove excruciating. This book’s antagonist, Charlotte, has been difficult to read since the start of the series. Clearly she’s also reincarnated from Japan, but we get no details about that except her utter rage at the fact that the route is not going her way. Worst of all, this book features a lot more Charlotte than the first two, and her scenes are a lot harder to simply try to skip over. That said, I will admit the payoff to this is really, really good – more on that later. Alas, a cliffhanger shows that we’ll get more Charlotte in the fourth book. Which admittedly may be because without her around, there’s no real conflict or problems – it’s just Claire having a wonderful time with her fiance. Nice, but dull.
Claire is not quite at the point where she has to do anything from the last timeline yet. The magical tornado is still in the future, and they’re working hard to make sure that when she goes back home for the event that destroyed her last time, she’ll have better magical protection. Fortunately, several clues fall into her lap: her mother’s bracelet turns out to be a powerful magical tool provided they figure out how to activate it. And a series of fairy stories, shown to them by Claire’s former charge from her previous life, Isabella, tell you exactly what to do to activate it. What’s more, Nicola is now in Claire’s domain and is doing quite well for herself… though she seems to spend most of the time exasperated at Claire’s former fiance, Asgard. Everything is perfect… till Charlotte steals the bracelet.
There is one scene that made me cheer in this book, which unfortunately is balanced out by the scenes that made me rub my temples. As noted above, almost everything that drives the plot forward in this book occurs due to either a happy coincidence (the bracelet stuff) or brain-boggling stupidity (Claire leaving the bracelet in an easy place for Charlotte to steal it). Even the cliffhanger ending, which introduces a new antagonist, feels tacked on for the sake of a cliffhanger ending. HOWEVER, this is all offset by the villainess scene. After 87 million books where our heroine, as the villainess or a noble girl, is disgraced and shunned in public in a way that makes us sympathize with her, it’s a delight to see the same thing happen to Charlotte, who deserves every minute of it. I cheered.
Sadly, this is still something I would call a very “mid” series. If you’re still reading it, you can probably get the fourth volume, which I hope is the final one. But it’s not remotely essential.