Earl and Fairy: The Spectral Lover

By Mizue Tani and Asako Takaboshi. Released in Japan as “Hakushaku to Yōsei” by Shueisha Cobalt Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Heart. Translated by Alexandra Owen-Burns.

This review, by necessity, features major spoilers for this volume, and I recommend not reading it till you finish it. I will put the cover (which does not spoil) first to allow you to avoid the spoiler.

Earl and Fairy’s first volume was clearly written as a one-shot. Most series are. Not everything is created to be a massive hit without having to actually sell the books first. And sometimes authors look back at decisions they made in the first book, when they were not expecting it to be, say, a 33-volume behemoth, and think “man, why did I do that plot twist? It worked great for a single book, but I could have done so much more with the character?” Mizue Tani was clearly thinking exactly that when she was writing up the plot of this volume, which features… well, come on, you have to guess what I’m talking about given I’m discussing major plot twists from the first book. She’s back, there’s a supernatural explanation, and it’s cool.

Edgar has been attending a seance held by a suspicious medium (one who seems to recognize him) that is meant to help a mourning woman marry off her late daughter’s ghost. Oddly, someone else is also attending the seance pretending to be him… and creating nasty rumors in the tabloids, rumors that Lydia (who doesn’t trust Edgar more than she can throw him) immediately believes. She’s also annoyed that she has to pretend to be engaged to him for reasons we saw in the last book. Then she’s promptly kidnapped (again, it’s that sot of series) and when Edgar and Raven track her down, she seems to genuinely be possessed by the spirit of the woman’s dead daughter. Well, possibly her daughter. And also only possessed half the time. Is this another of Ulysses’ clever plots?

So yeah, Ermine’s back. Arguably this ruins the tragedy of her death in the first volume, but frankly I always found her death in the first volume rather annoying, so I don’t really mind this all too much. She’s now a selkie, as apparently this is how she was saved from death in the first place. Unfortunately, having betrayed Edgar and Raven in Book 1, she’s got to do it again, this time because Ulysses has her “skin”, in the form of a glass bead, which if destroyed will kill selkies for real. We’ll see how long she lasts this time around before what I suspect will be a slightly better death. As for Lydia and Edgar, he is at least starting to get why she doesn’t trust him in the least – he has to stop treating her like a solution to his problems. That said, I think most of the readers are siding with him more than her right now – we do want a romance novel, after all.

I greatly enjoy the writing in this series, because (I have observed) it’s nothing like modern light novels. Anyone looking for something different, come get this.

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