Though I Am an Inept Villainess: Tale of the Butterfly-Rat Body Swap in the Maiden Court, Vol. 5

By Satsuki Nakamura and Kana Yuki. Released in Japan as “Futsutsuka na Akujo dewa Gozaimasu ga: Suuguu Chouso Torikae Den” by Ichijinsha Novels. Released in North America by Airship. Translated by Tara Quinn.

In the last volume we saw that discovering the wonders of living inside a healthy and hale body broke down Reirin’s emotional reserve, to the point that when she was confronted with a horrible tragedy she broke down in tears. In this volume we see that the experience of having a friend who doesn’t spoil her and treat her like she’s made of fragile glass has broken her reserves even more without her knowing it. Unfortunately, this friend is also the sort of person to have every single emotion, no matter what it is, come out as “anger”. And this is very unfortunate, because for once in her life, Reirin is completely unable to cope. As for said friend, Keigetsu, well, she’s throwing wild tantrums and raving that she’ll never, ever apologize, but that’s far less surprising. Unfortunately, the timing on this is really awful, as the maidens are having a competition for the Top Spot, and the knives are coming out.

Three months have passed since the events of the last book, and it’s now time for Rite of Reverence, where the five maidens all compete to see who can show the most devotion to the Emperor. This is a hotly contested battle, with the respective house fortunes rising and falling depending on the placement of said maidens. As such, Keigetsu is even more stressed out than usual. And she’s not the only one, as we get a good look at the other three maidens in the series. Seika is trying to do this in an honorable way, but is cowed by her consort’s power and threats. Houshun is discovering that her cutely incompetent act is starting to show its cracks, and her own consort can see them. And Kasui is on a detective mission, desperately trying to find out what happened years ago that led to the death of her sister and the mere mention of her name being forbidden in the inner court. As for Reirin? She’s fiiiiiiiiine.

This is an amazing book in an amazing series, frankly, and I am desperate to read the next one because, of course, it ends on a cliffhanger. Reirin and Keigetsu get into a huge fight, and you can absolutely sympathize with both of them. After four books of finding Keigetsu’s tantrums cute and funny, Reirin is finally hurt by them, and finds her powers of observation and judgment severely curtailed. Of course, that may also be the fact that she’s getting progressively more ill after getting her foot burned in a murder attempt and diving into an icy lake to try to save Keigetsu’s poetry. I think everyone else in the cast was too stunned at seeing the supposedly deathly ill Reirin doing these things to bother to be angry at her. Keigetsu, though, expresses all her emotions through rage. Including worry, and concern, and guilt. Not great. Especially when Reirin genuinely screws up in a conversation with Kasui and ends up beaten up and dying at the bottom of a well.

That said, the cliffhanger is not “will Reirin be found before she dies?”, because the author is aware we know she will. Also, this is a book where the main premise is bodyswapping. So the cliffhanger is, instead, how are we going to stop Reirin’s Roaring Rampage of Revenge this time? Everyone, I beg you, read this.

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