By Satsuki Nakamura and Kana Yuki. Released in Japan as “Futsutsuka na Akujo dewa Gozaimasu ga: Suuguu Chouso Torikae Den” by Ichijinsha Novels. Released in North America by Airship. Translated by Tara Quinn.
Sometimes when you’ve lived a certain way your entire life, and are suddenly shown that there are other ways to live, it can be very very difficult to go back to what you have always done. That’s what Reirin is dealing with in this book, as a consequence of the body swaps. For the most part, she’s held this in, because, well, that’s the sort of person she is, but the stress of the situation in this book and the fact that, for the first time, someone might be dead because of her actions, makes her have a breakdown and admit – she hates being in constant pain. She hates being at death’s door. She never used to worry about not waking up every time she fell asleep, now she does. And it terrifies her. It terrifies her so much that she misses something else – why is her sickly, dying body now so utterly healthy whenever Keigetsu is in it? I mean, this is new, right? It wasn’t the case in the first book. What’s going on?
We pick up right where we left off with the previous book. Reirin, in Keigetsu’s body, is trying to deal with the outbreak in the village, while she and her allies also try to figure out how to stop the entire village, AND the maiden, being burned to the ground as a “necessary measure”. Meanwhile, Keigetsu (in Reirin’s body) is having to deal with her reputation being tanked so hard that there will be no way for her to come back from it, and now she has to give a tea party with three of the other maidens, including the one behind all of this. Fortunately for both of them, they have actual allies this time around, including the Emperor. Which helps a lot, let me tell you. But is it going to be enough?
There are three scenes in this book which should make every reader sit up and cheer. The first is the tea party itself, where Keigetsu finally manages to apply al of the observational skills she’s never really tried to use before to manipulate the conversation away from the master manipulator and swing things back her way. The second I mentioned above, where Reirin (who is noted beforehand to have never cried before) breaking down, a scene which is probably the first time I actually though that she and the Emperor could be a good couple after all. But the final scene is magical. Everyone is doing their best to stop Reirin’s roaring rampage of revenge, and they fail miserably. But it’s actually Houshun who’s the MVP here, as all this has done is make her FAR more interested in Reirin than she was before. She’s clearly one of those “anything but a boring life” villainesses, and now that Keigetsu is effectively a dual heroine, we needed a really great bad guy. We have one now. “I’ve taken a liking to you” is like a white glove thrown to the ground. Let the duels commence.
That said, our dual heroines may be in trouble with Book 5, which promises (in the author’s afterword) to break them up. This remains one of the best series I’ve read this past year, and is recommended to everyone, even if you think you’re tired of villainess books.