By Sora Hinokage and Tsukasa Kiryu. Released in Japan as “Loop kara Nukedasenai Akuyaku Reijō wa, Akiramete Sukikatte Ikirukoto ni Kimemashita” by DRE Novels. Released in North America by J-Novel Heart. Translated by Andria McKnight.
There is apparently a 3rd and final volume of this coming soon, which surprises me, as right until the end I thought that this book was the equivalent of that new Shonen Jump series that is told “you have 3 chapters to wrap up all your plotlines”. This volume hits the ground running and does not let up in terms of reveals, backstories, and monster fights. Thankfully, Selene is no longer stuck in a time loop, as at least in this book she manages to make it all the way through without resetting. Unfortunately, bad things keep trying to happen to her, leading to a change in her goal: escape this time loop’ is now secondary to ‘live freely and happily and screw everyone else’. Well, everyone else except Dier, of course. The romance in this series is so mild as to be almost nonexistent, but it is there, and deep down Selene is probably “quite fond” of Dier. Just don’t ask her to say it.
Unfortunately, Selene, Dier, and the king find that even taking all the other powers from the guardians is not enough to change the mystery stone tablet. Fortunately (?) for Selene, a solution presents itself fairly quickly: her little sister Soleil has finally gained the powers of the sun, and her mother is now telling Selene to step down. Selene says no, and so the two of them have to have a fight to determine who gets to be head of house. Which… makes little sense, given that Selene is a master of shadow and Soleil just came into her power last week. What’s stepmom’s real agenda here? Well, it’s a big one, and is tied deeply into their family, the past of this country, and Selene’s own late mother. Unfortunately, none of these revelations are particularly good news, and Selene spends most of the book in battle.
I was pleased to see that little sister was not evil as I’d theorized at the end of my first review. She just has an evil mom. That said, Soleil is not all that interesting, being the standard “yes, mother” daughter who must break free of her shackles, etc. Selene is the star of the show, and the reason we’re here. I’ve mentioned her emotional walls before, and they’re still very high, making the narrative sometimes feel as if she’s reading off a phone book when she’s actually facing off against monsters who have possessed her family. The best part of the book is probably Selene’s father, who I had written off as a minor part of the series, returning and showing that, like his daughter, he does actually feel things but has tremendous difficulty expressing them. This forces Selene to have her one and only major emotional moment in the book. That said, it’s only about halfway through the book, so she doesn’t “change for the better” or anything.
The cover to the third volume, due out in Japan next month, has the characters walking into the twilight but looking back at the reader with a smile, and you know what that means. I’ll be back, and continue to hope Selene has a love epiphany or something.