The Bride of Demise, Vol. 1

By Keishi Ayasato and murakaruki. Released in Japan as “Shūen no Hanayome” by MF Bunko J. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Jordan Taylor.

Sometimes an author, regardless of the material, simply reaches out, grabs you by the throat, and starts to throttle you with evocative prose. Keishi Ayasato is one of those authors. Torture Princess, their previous series, contains just about every type of thing that I normally avoid in fiction, and yet it’s one of my favorite LN series. Likewise, when I first saw the solicit for The Bride of Demise, my first thought was “ooooh, not my thing”. But then I saw the author and knew I would have to buy it. And I was right. As with Torture Princess, this series has a certain loving fascination with grand guignol horror in its writing, but this one is, and I can’t believe that I’m even typing this, a magical academy series. That almost cheapens it, and I would hate to see it compared with things like the various “Demon King Went to School and Was Super Badass” books. This is the story of a young man and his fated meeting with a living weapon.

Kou, an orphan whose parents were killed when he was young, is a Magical Research student at the academy. He and his fellow researchers learn about the Kihei, monstrous creatures who were essentially the reason this is a somewhat post-apocalyptic world. Then one day, while he ad his team are exploring a supposedly safe area to harvest kihei corpses for material, they’re attacked by some very strong kihei. Kou decides to sacrifice himself to save the others, and falls trough a glass ceiling into a garden… which is convenient, as this is very much like the dream that he keeps having during his waking hours. In that dream, he meets someone who promises she will be at his side for all eternity. Now it’s come true. She’s White Princess, she is his “bride”, and it feels like he’s known her for years.

This review will very much be talking about the first half of the novel, because the second half is a nest of spoilers that I do not want to be responsible for you learning. All the “holy shit!” moments are there, and they are fantastic. That said, the rest of the book is a lot of fun. Kou is now part of a special team of elite students, all with their own “bride”, and taught by a classic badass teacher with a dark side to him. Kou manages to befriend most of the group pretty quickly, partly because it turns out that he’s a lot better at combat against the kihei than anyone really expected. But really it’s Kou’s relationship with his bride that is the emotional core of this book. Their love for each other is very quick to develop and very strong, and also, again trying not to spoil, the cause of the entire second half of the book.

I rarely have to say “trust me” in my reviews, as everyone knows I spoil like a mad fiend. But trust me on this one. Unless you can’t abide blood and gore (you should steer clear in that case), The Bride of Demise is a fantastic debut. Indeed, my one complaint is that it feels finished in one volume. Where else does this series go? Vol. 2 is coming soon to tell us.

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