The Holy Grail of Eris, Vol. 2

By Kujira Tokiwa and Yu-nagi. Released in Japan as “Eris no Seihai” by GA Novels. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Winifred Bird.

The most frustrating thing about this volume is pretty much the same issue I had with the first one: the author is not telling the story I want to read most. Don’t get me wrong, I’m greatly enjoying seeing Connie sort of fumble around and slowly work out what happened ten years ago and why there’s a big chance it’s going to happen again. But frankly, I want the teenage years of Abigail O’Brian. I want a pirate adventure story, I want to see how she ended up at the center of everything and also a madam, I want to see how she inspires absolutely everyone around her. But I suspect all I will get will be the crumbs of backstory I get here, because the author does not want to tell an adventure story, they want to write a mystery. And this volume gives us a lot of answers in the main mystery, though the resolution is still a long ways away. And depends, most likely, on Connie, not Abigail.

Connie is getting closer to the truth, and that’s making a lot of people angry. They try to kidnap and kill her best friend to get her to stop. They murder several witnesses who would have undone all their careful planning. And they have a pesky reporter girl who, sadly, is very much an antagonist in this series. Fortunately, Connie does have a few allies. She has Scarlett, of course, who can still occasionally possess Connie when it’s for the greater good, and whose complicated backstory we learn here. She also has Randolph, her love interest, though both of them being the sort of person that love just bounces off of means that the romance part of the book is more frustrating than anything else. That said, the real selling point is what we find out here: exactly why Scarlett was executed.

I will, of course, not reveal that here – I like spoilers but am trying to get better at not saying them. Nevertheless, it turns out to be a far larger plot than Connie, Randolph, or indeed the reader had planned. It can sometimes be a bit of a stretch to realize that everyone we meet seems to be connected to everyone either in the present, the past, or both, but that’s mystery novels for you. And we also get a few detours that are tense, mostly as while the author is unlikely to kill off Connie or Randolph, they’ve shown they’re perfectly happy to kill off other characters. There actually may be a bit TOO much going on here, as there’s also the subplot of a powerful hallucinogenic drug once again becoming available among the nobility. Everything points to somebody trying to undermine the country. And the biggest bombshell is what some people are prepared to do to save the country. But again… spoilers.

The series has 4+ volumes out in Japan, but I have a suspicion that this arc, at least, will end with the next book. I definitely look forward to seeing what happens – just because the mysteries are solved doesn’t mean the problems have gone away.

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