A Tale of the Secret Saint, Vol. 5

By Touya and chibi. Released in Japan as “Tensei Sita Daiseijyo ha, Seijyo Dearuko Towohitakakusu” by Earth Star Novels. Released in North America by Airship. Translated by Kevin Ishizaka. Adapted by Matthew Birkenhauer.

I have to be honest, I should not enjoy this series as much as I do. It really does a lot of things wrong. At its core is broad humor involving a heroine who misunderstands almost everything everyone says to her, and that’s fine. In fact, it’s almost a genre in itself. And she’s really, really good at not getting it. But it also manages to bring up her very real PTSD that comes from her actual death and everything leading up to her death, to the point where she’s actively repressing the worst memories of it. This is also quite well written and handled with care, but the two plotlines really should not co-exist next to each other as well as they do. In addition, this volume once again is 2/3 of an actual book, followed by endless extra side stories that either tell other character’s POV of what Fia narrated for us, or Fia’s wacky adventures as Serafina in the past. Where we find she was also a giant ditz.

After the events of the previous two books, Fia is now officially a knight, but before she can get down to the business of protecting the royal family, she’s given some time off. She uses this to go north to visit her older sister, aka the one sibling that did not treat her like hot garbage growing up, and also check in with Zavilia, who is no longer a tiny little dragon familiar but has become King of the Mountain – literally. He even has his own dragon cult, though there’s some implication that this is mostly due to pure terrifying force of will. Unfortunately, when she gets back to her home, she’s also met by Guy Osbern, who used to “tease” her as a kid by calling himself a legendary demon. Sadly, he had no real way of knowing the very real trauma that she had in the past from demons, and seeing him again brings it all back.

Again, for the most part this is hilarious. Before she sets off on her journey she runs into “Green” and “Blue”, the royals from the neighboring kingdom who are still just random adventurers to her, and she takes them with her on her journey. Literally everyone except Fia can see they’re Very Important People, but she does not care. She also has a nice dose of accidentally using her saint powers and having to pretend that it’s for some random reason, though fortunately she doesn’t have to restore any severed arms here. Amidst all this, we do get actual plot, if only a bit. The past history of the kingdoms does not quite match up with Fia’s memory of her past from 300 years ago, and Kurtis knows why but does not want to upset Mia too much. What’s more, it turns out that they may not have defeated the real demon lord – and “the demon lord’s underling” is the one part of Fia’s memories that she’s still running away from in terror.

So: this is hilarious You will laugh. But there’s an odd current of deep tragedy also rolling through it, and the resulting taste should not work but does.

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