Prison Life Is Easy for a Villainess, Vol. 1

By Hibiki Yamazaki and Tetsuhiro Nabeshima. Released in Japan as “Konyaku Haki kara Hajimaru Akuyaku Reijou no Kangoku Slow Life” by Enterbrain. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Sean McCann.

We’ve seen enough villainess stories by now that we’re used to the subgenres and deconstructions. We’ve seen ditzy villainesses, crafty villainesses, fleeing villainesses, and depressed villainesses. We’ve seen women who are aghast at how the relationships have changed around them, and other women who have no idea that they’ve become a beloved and cherished young lady. That said, for the most part even the most excessive of the villainess books has had a similar theme, which is “I am a villainess and I want to stop being one”. But what if our heroine is in fact a terrible person? What if she has not awoken to her past memories but simply been holding back her true self naturally? What if the world she lives in is, in fact, a cartoon? This novel is here to answer those questions. If you’ve been dying for some gaslighting, gatekeeping, and girlbossing, Rachel Ferguson is here for you. Even if she’s also behind bars.

Despite the villainess tag, there’s no past life from Japan or otome game hijinks here; it just describes our protagonist. Rachel is the duke’s daughter and the fiancee of the prince… however, he accuses her of bullying his new love, Margaret, and (as the King and Queen are conveniently away) tosses her into a cell. A… strangely full cell. What are all those packing crates doing there? Why is Rachel sitting on a chair eating canned food and sipping wine? Why does she have a COUCH? Most of all, why is she not sobbing and begging for mercy? Unfortunately for Prince Elliott, it turns out that Rachel’s somewhat detached, doll-like demeanor was hiding her true self… which everyone but him (and the other men Margaret is manipulating) seems to know about. And now that the beast has been let loose, Rachel is going to destroy him. Peacefully. While enjoying her prison life.

As noted, this book works best if you think of it as a cartoon, with Rachel as Bugs Bunny and Elliott as Yosemite Sam. The main reason for this is that if you try to find sympathy for any of these people, the story will collapse. The author wants the reader to be delighted at Rachel torturing people for her own amusement. Fortunately, for the most part, I am. Rachel is a bitchy delight. Elliott is the perfect dumb clown villain the book needs (it would not work with anyone smart of likeable). Oddly, Margaret, the commoner-turned-baroness’ daughter who started all this, ends up coming off as oddly cute, possibly as she’s clearly meant to be an innocent teenage brat rather than a scheming vixen. The book expands a lot on the original webnovel, and the author freely admits in the afterword that when you have a scene that doesn’t star Rachel in prison, it’s new to the light novel. These scenes don’t work quite as well, but they’re also fine.

If the idea of a woman casually destroying her idiotic fiancee over the course of 240 pages makes you go “hrm, not sure”, I’d avoid this book. If, like me, it makes you say “OH GOD, YES PLEASE”, then this will delight you. Also, the next volume is the last, so Rachel won’t wear out her welcome.

Did you enjoy this article? Consider supporting us.

Speak Your Mind