I’m in Love with the Villainess, Vol. 5

By Inori and Hanagata. Released in Japan as “Watashi no Oshi wa Akuyaku Reijou” by GL Bunko. Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Kevin Ishizaka. Adapted by Nibedita Sen.

As the author notes in the afterword to this volume, this series has come a long way from its first volume, which was mostly dedicated to the relationship between Rae and Claire. That’s still the case in this final volume, but it ends up being the first volume writ large; where the first volume focused on the school they were enrolled in, and the second their kingdom, this final volume sets their romance against the end of everything. I am going to try not to spoil too much in this review, but there’s a big swerve about 1/4 of the way into this volume that makes sense on a plot level, and also helps to explain a few things that have been bubbling under since the third book began and we started to get the continuation plotline. Unfortunately, it appears that once again events may conspire to force Claire to make the difficult decision that will save the most people, leaving Rae to scream about it.

So it turns out that the ones who’ve been going after Claire so much are servants of the Demon Queen, who is here to destroy the Empire in order to get her way. Dorothea, realizing a bit too late that being the sort of person that she is means that calling for aid is going to get her nowhere, decides to abdicate in favor of Philine, who is not going to be winning any sword battles but is certainly far better at actual negotiation. And then there’s the Apostle, who bounces between bodies in order to tell Rae and Claire that she’s on their side… despite the fact that she honestly feels extremely untrustworthy. In any case, at least our heroes finally get the Demon Queen herself to make an appearance. And… oh no, that face seems really familiar somehow…

I’m not spoiling you on the main surprises, but finding out the Demon Queen has a Rae face should not be too much of a surprise after meeting the Pope in previous books. We know this series stacks up Raes the way that the Fate franchise stacks up Sabers, so the reader’s reaction is more “ah, knew it” than anything else. Also without spoiling anything, Rae reacting to things, both for good and ill, is one of the highlights of this volume. Her lack of confidence in herself deep down comes up here again, even to the point where she’s surprised that her children show her as much affection as they do Claire. It helps to make the climax of the book have even greater impact. The fight scenes are also nifty, with lots of cool battles that would look great animated, hint hint. And let’s also pour one out for poor Lilly, who is fantastic here and absolutely gets shafted by the narrative, because that’s what the narrative has to do. Ah well.

If it sounds like I’m not saying much, that’s because I really want the impact of the reveals here to surprise the reader. Trust me when I say you won’t regret it. This was an excellent finale to the series… but I’m also very happy we’re getting She’s So Cheeky for a Commoner in the next few months.

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