By Keishi Ayasato and Saki Ukai. Released in Japan as “Isekai Goumon Hime” by MF Bunko J. Released in North America Yen On. Translated by Nathaniel Hiroshi Thrasher.
Back in my fanfiction days, I used to have an argument with a friend of mine, who wrote some great stories but tended to end them a little too late. I used to call them the “And they all lived happily ever after till they died, and here’s how they died” stories. Now, I’m not sure I expect Torture Princess to go QUITE that far. But at the end of my last review, I mentioned that I was worried that the series would not be able to justify continuing after a very satisfying 6th book, which wrapped up Kaito’s plot beautifully. I’d say the answer is yes and no. Yes, it’s another Torture Princess book, with some of the most evocative writing in light novels, and I could have easily quoted a dozen passages. And I do enjoy Elisabeth’s character arc here quite a bit. Still… man, this is a downer, and has some of the most graphic horror descriptions since Vol. 1. It is a Dead Dove: Do Not Eat of a light novel.
The book picks up right where the previous one left off, with the introduction of our antagonists, who also grace the cover: A girl who calls herself Alice Carroll, the new Torture Princess, and her minder/father figure Lewis. They have killed off the two beast princesses who worked with Kaito in the previous book, and are basically here to destroy the world AGAIN. To be fair, they do have a pretty good reason they can use to justify it, but that’s not good enough for Elisabeth. Now she has to try to stop them, helped by Lute, whose job is to be the heart of the book; Jeanne, who is a girl in love, and Izabella, who has acknowledged this love but not responded to it; and La Cristoph, who has already been captured by the enemy. Worst of all, as everyone seems to be telling her… Elisabeth is getting SOFT.
This is not a completely grim book. There are lots of attempts at humor, some of which are admittedly as dark as the blackest night, but they’re there. One running gag with Elisabeth and La Cristoph actually made me laugh. But I won’t deny that there’s a lot of depressing goddamn shit here. Alice, like Kaito, is an abused Japanese girl, whose previous life reminded me an awful lot of Satoko from Higurashi, and it’s no surprise that her reincarnated powerful self is a very, very broken girl. And then there is the revenge that Lewis takes on behalf of the mixed-race peoples, which involves using a large number of purebreds as wombs for demon children. The description in this particular scene is so Grand Guignol that it almost crosses over into parody, but it’s also incredibly sickening to read about. There is, briefly, a nice little bit of hope towards the end of the book, but I still am not 100%… or even 50%… confident that this series won’t end with most everyone dead or wishing they were dead.
Still, I admit that’s not much of a change from the previous six books. I think the loss of Kaito’s POV affected the book more than I was expecting. It’s still a great series to read if you like good writing and horrible graphic images. But man… what a bummer.