By Saki and Haduki Futaba. Released in Japan as “Albert-ke no Reijō wa Botsuraku o Goshomō Desu” by Kadokawa Beans Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Heart. Translated by Ray Krycki.
As everyone knows, we are at the height of a villainess boom right now, with seemingly every single new villainess title getting picked up for publication. That said… are they really new? I looked to see when Young Lady Albert Is Courting Disaster! began as a webnovel, and it debuted in late July, 2014. For comparison, My Next Life As a Villainess debuted in EARLY July, 2014. And the light novel itself had its first volume published in 2015. That said, unfortunately, its translation is being published in 2023, and therefore the reader may have to stop themselves from sighing and saying “total ripoff”. It’s not, really. What’s more, the plot of this is almost the inverse of My Next Life As a Villainess. Katarina Claes does wacky things to avoid getting killed/exiled, and despite these she wins the hearts of everyone. Lady Mary Albert does villainous things to deliberately try to get exiled… and despite these she wins the hearts of everyone. Because at heart, they’re both great people.
Mary Albert is the daughter of a powerful noble house… and she’s just regained her past memories from Japan. She immediately tells her beleaguered manservant that Mary was the villainess in an otome game, doomed to be exiled to northern lands at the end after bullying the heroine for the entire game. Mary’s reaction to these memories is to say “Welp, guess it’s time to be a villainess” and break out her ojou-sama laugh and cruelest remarks. She quickly targets Alicia, the heroine, and verbally abuses her sense of direction… while directing her to the correct place. She viciously mocks her tables manners… by showing her the correct way to eat. Adi, her servant, is getting very frustrated. What the heck is Mary actually trying to achieve? Is there method to this madness?
Actually, yes, there is. I was suckered in a bit. The first third or so of the book is Mary Albert’s increasingly silly attempts to bully the heroine, and those same attempts failing miserably, because at heart Mary is a nice girl. It’s hilarious. Then Adi asks why she’s REALLY doing this, and things get a lot more serious. Mary turns out to be a lot more on the ball than I was expecting, and can see how her family’s political power, as the nation now is, is a massive liability for the future. Her goal, to achieve her ruin, is meant to sacrifice herself to save everyone else, which is impressive… if it were not for the fact that she’s STILL terrible at it. In reality, Alicia becomes her best friend, much to her horror. Oh yes, and there’s also the relationship between her and Adi. He’s clearly in love with her. She’s in love with him too, but as yet unaware. It’s a very solid romance.
This could have been a one-shot, but there’s more to go. Still, it’s a good old-school villainess book, for a good reason: it is old-school, being written long before most other pretenders to the throne. But, most importantly, Mary Albert is a hoot.