Culinary Chronicles of the Court Flower, Vol. 4

By Miri Mikawa and Kasumi Nagi. Released in Japan as “Ikka Kōkyū Ryōrichō” by Kadokawa Beans Bunko. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by afm.

I will admit that after the cliffhanger of the previous volume, I was not expecting the plot for most of this one to be “ghost story”. And yet it also manages to help to drive forward the love triangle as well, as it’s hard to maintain a cool, relaxed, professional demeanor when the person you love is sneaking into your room every night. Especially when they’re really a ghost who is there to slowly sap your life essence. This isn’t QUITE Rimi’s fault this time, but she’s the only one that can fix it, and honestly if she fails execution is likely what awaits. Again. If this were the previous three volumes, then the problem would be solved by food, but here food is only part of the answer. Rimi needs to actually look inside the ghost’s heart and see why they’re doing this. Which will, unfortunately for everyone involved, mean looking inside her own heart and doing what’s best for everyone.

The book starts off with the fallout from the previous one. Both Rimi and Shusei both trying to repress their love, and succeeding only in the eyes of each other (we get monologues from each about how the other one is much calmer about this). And the Emperor is, of course, waiting patiently for Rimi’s answer to his proposal. All this emotion flying around means that Tama, the Quinary Dragon, is feeling ill and lethargic. After researching things, they decide to decamp to a different palace, one with more spiritual energy, in order to heal Tama. Unfortunately, this palace comes with its own version of the Seven Mysteries of the High School, and Rimi finds herself dragged to a cursed well by impetuous consort and repressed lesbian Yo, who decides that investigating cursed objects that scream “do not open this cursed object” is awesome. Unfortunately, it triggers a curse. And now everyone’s going into everyone else’s room – supposedly – like it’s a British farce.

The food may take a back seat this time, but the romance and political intrigue does not. Despite Shusei trying to run away from it at every opportunity, he’s finally told the secret of his birth – and understands the implications for how he can use it to make Rimi his. Unfortunately, Rimi identifies strongly with the ghost here, who had to give up on her true love in order to become the Empress because it would be better for the kingdom. It comes down to waffling about things because of your love or making a clean break without regrets, and Rimi, who has matured more with each volume, makes the difficult choice. Which is very good news for the Emperor, but very bad news for the cast in general, as after reading the last forty or so pages of this book I’m fairly sure that this series is going to be ending with most of the cast dead.

But that’s future Sean’s problem. For now, this was probably the best volume in this series to date, one where true loves goes up against political expediency and comes out the loser.

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