Culinary Chronicles of the Court Flower, Vol. 6

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 Hunter Prigg.

Sometimes there are series that start as one thing and become a completely different thing. That’s normal narrative progression, but it always seems to be a shame when they lose sight of what drew people into the series in the first place. Good news, however, that is not a problem with Culinary Chronicles of the Court Flower. Sure, we may now be watching the world’s slowest coup, filled with danger and soldiers lining up for war and betrayal and famine and more betrayal. But, in the end, Rimi still solves the entire problem by delicious food. And that’s the series’ brand, it’s what makes it different from others of its ilk. Rimi has OP powers, but they’re not ‘to make everyone fall in love with her’ (though yes, there is a love triangle), they’re ‘cooking will automatically make everything better and easier to understand’. Even in this book, when she goes full artisan, giving the Emperor and his administrator a 100-plate meal with one bite of food on each plate.

Rimi and Shohi are still reeling after the events of the previous book, so much so that the emperor decides to postpone the “Nocturnal Liturgy” that would consummate their relationship. Neither of them can figure out why Shusei would do this, and he is being 100% unhelpful about it. Unfortunately, they don’t really have much time to dwell on it. An administrator from the outlying areas comes to inform the emperor that they will not be paying taxes this year. Is it rebellion? Do they want to get rid of Shohi the way so many in the Inner Court do? Or is there something deeper afoot? And whose plan is this in the first place? To solve it, Shohi is going to have to put his trust in far more people than he ever has before, and the Four Consorts are going to have to play detective.

I have to admit: I’m not sure I want Rimi and Shusei to happen anymore. I feel he’s burned his bridges too much in this book. I would be fine with Rimi and Shohi, but unfortunately that requires love on both sides, and Rimi seems to think of Shohi more the way a mom does than a lover does, which means it’s probably a good thing their Nocturnal Liturgy was postponed. Shohi really comes into his own in this volume, showing some real character development and pulling away from the clutches of his ministers to figure out what the real problem is… though unfortunately, that turns out to play right into Shusei’s hands as well. Politics is hard. As for Rimi, she’s getting sharper, despite being told she has “flowers for brains” multiple times in this book. She’s empathic, making connections based on her feelings, so when she gets much needed information everything just slots together at once for her. It’s terrific to see how much she’s grown.

I know a lot of people dropped this for being a cut-rate Apothecary Diaries, but it’s really come into its own, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

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