Culinary Chronicles of the Court Flower, Vol. 8

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.

I hope people don’t read all my reviews of this series in order, because I inevitably end up repeating the same thing over and over again: this is a series about food. It’s there in the title, where it says these are Rimi’s CULINARY chronicles, not her rise to power or her romantic adventures. Likewise, you know that eventually in these books there’s going to be a big crisis, and it’s going to be resolved by a meal. OK, in this particular volume it’s not actually resolved, but it’s at least defused, which is good enough. Rimi spends a majority of this book in hiding, which means that she can’t say her name, and her identity is constantly called into question, given that she’s very bad at hiding it. Who is she? The future empress? The court flower? A poison that will destroy the entire country? None of those, really. She’s a cook. Food – and not just any food, but the RIGHT food – is how she interacts with others.

We pick up where we left off last time, with Rimi kidnapped by the Chancellor, who locks her in an old building on a far away estate, where he will quietly kill her once he makes arrangements. Fortunately, before he can do that, she’s rescued by a passing hottie (which feels ludicrously unrealistic even by the standards of this series, but hey). What’s more, the hottie is the very same person who’s being recommended to be the new Minister of Works. Now we have The Emperor desperately trying to find Rimi, Shusei desperately trying to find Rimi, the Chancellor, once he discovers she’s gone, desperately trying to find Rimi, and her mysterious benefactor being understandably unwilling to let her go because Rimi refuses to say who she is. In other words, situation normal for the Court Flower books.

Much as I would like it to be kicked slightly to the side, there’s only one OTP in this series, and it’s Rimi and Shusei. They reunite here, and Rimi opens up and admits that she’s still in love with him, but it’s hard to get past sheer male stubbornness, especially when said male thinks that he’s really being political. Frustration levels are high. On the bright side, the new character, Ryo Renka, is wonderful, an excellent addition to the cast who I hope we see more of. Ryo is also deeply tied into the past of the previous generation, which also includes Shusei’s father and the Chancellor, and it’s that past that provides the clue to help Rimi escape her deadly fate. I enjoyed the fact that this tim around the food has to be made in a rush and sloppily – because that’s how it was made originally by the amateurs who cooked it. It’s all about the vibe.

This has three volumes to go, and I expect civil war before the end. But it will be civil war with cooking, no doubt. Still greatly enjoying this, one of the strongest volumes in the series.

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