The Springtime Chime of Marielle Clarac

By Haruka Momo and Maro. Released in Japan as “Marielle Clarac no Harurin” by Ichijinsha Bunko Iris NEO. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Philip Reuben.

It’s been a while since we’ve last seen Marielle Clarac, but she’s still worried about whether she’s too childish. That said, I don’t think she has too much to worry about. Since the start of this series, she’s improved by leaps and bounds. She’s able to listen to people when they tell her she’s going too far or saying too much. Best of all, Simeon is learning when it’s a good idea to just let her off the leash and do whatever she wants. Marielle is featuring in a Murder, She Wrote knockoff, where everywhere she goes she can’t help but get involved in dangerous situations. There’s no murder here, but the same thing applies. That said, this is more than just a thriller or a mystery this time. It’s also a gothic ghost story, complete with creepy castle and ghosts that are said to curse those lying within. Now, neither Simeon nor Marielle believe in ghosts. But Marielle loves the IDEA of believing in ghosts a lot…

Marilee is dealing with a lull in her book series at the moment. People still like her books, but they want something a bit more bittersweet. A bit more adult (no, not like that). Unfortunately, despite her vigorous nighttime activities with her husband, Marielle is not sure she is mature enough to understand the appeal of a bittersweet love. She and Simeon, however, have bigger things to worry about. The prince’s uncle has recently passed away, and his wife asked asked Severin to come along and help her with a problem she’s having. Going along are Julianne, Simeon, and Marielle. Once there, they find that Laetitia, the Duchess, wants to leave the duchy and return to the town she grew up in. And take her daughter with her, despite the fact that her daughter doesn’t know that town at all. And what’s more, she wants to do it IMMEDIATELY. Why? Could it be… ghosts?

Given that this series started with Marielle being (according to herself) being the sort to be unnoticed and only listen to others, it’s really great to hear her give a few smacktalk speeches in this book. There’s a lot of people not communicating with each other in this one, and (of course) there’s also international intrigue, again. (No Lutin, though.) Honestly, for once Simeon is the more worrying one. When Marielle is in danger (again, yes, it’s that sort of series – at least she’s not successfully kidnapped this time) he grows terrifying in his desire to punish those responsible, but even scarier is his rage when some other man finds his wife attractive. The best part of the book might be how, in acquiescence of his wife’s wishes, he does an interrogation while holding his riding crop. The Simeon of only two or three books ago would never have done this. They really are in love.

There are suggestions that Marielle imagine what being a mother is like towards the end of this book, but I don’t think the series is ready to go there right now, if ever. It’s far more content watching Marielle sneak around in disguises she brought herself, find clues that her husband already knew about, and get in and out of peril. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

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