A Livid Lady’s Guide to Getting Even: How I Crushed My Homeland with My Mighty Grimoires, Vol. 1

By Hagure Metabo and masami. Released in Japan as “Buchigire Reijō wa Hōfuku wo Chikaimashita. Madōsho no Chikara de Sokoku wo Tataki Tsubushimasu” by HJ Novels. Released in North America by J-Novel Heart. Translated by Rymane Tsouria.

I’ve read quite a few bad books in my day. Some are so boring or annoying I don’t even finish them, hence they don’t get reviewed. Some are so hilariously bad I can do a “funny” review of how bad the book is. But it’s rare that I’ve come across a book so bad it makes me angry. In fact, ironically, it makes me livid, which is something that we almost never see from Ellie, the antagonist of this book. She spends almost the entire book in a sort of stoic indifference, and we’re meant to know that she’s furious because she says so. I like to think she sounds like Marvin the Martian when she talks about how angry she is. That in itself is not enough to make me angry about this book. Hell, not even the “oh, bandits aren’t human, so it’s fine to murder them” or “let’s go buy a slave!” are quite enough. No, it’s the ending.

You can probably guess how this book opens. Yup. Elizabeth Leiston, the fiance to the crown prince of Haldoria, is accused in public of being mean to the prince’s true love, the daughter of a baron. She’s arrested by the prince’s knight Robert and taken to prison. She knows that the prince is only doing this because the king and the prime minister – her father – are away. However, when the two hear about this, they assume the hypercompetent Elizabeth will escape in no time, bop the crown prince on the nose like he’s a puppy who pooped on the rug, and go back to secretly running the kingdom on her own. Instead, she spends a month in prison, reading and getting more annoyed. When her maid (also hypercompetent – no one grows or learns in this book) confirms that the king and her father just laid back and assumed she’d fix things, she decides to escape, flee the country, and get her revenge. Little did I know her revenge would not be typical “villainess novel” revenge, or even Greek Tragedy revenge, but “15 year old fanfic writer who’s just discovered the “gore” tag on AO3″ revenge.

Again, the first three-quarters of this book are bad, but in a “normal” way. Elizabeth, now calling herself Ellie, has magic grimoires that essentially make her omnipotent. She hires a 10-year-old – for once, not an orphan – to work for her. She also buys a slave, but it’s OK, because this slave comes from the “good” slave dealer who treats his slaves well. Note this slave is not paid except for “some pocket money”. She runs a cosmetics business (again, like so many other villainess books) until her old kingdom, who have decided that the crown prince’s reputation is more important than hers so have labeled her a monster, decides to stage an invasion. This is just garden variety bad. It started to get worse when we ran across the village of amateur solders who decided to rape a few women. And then we get to the actual start of the revenge, which will no doubt take several volumes, possibly one for each person she’s wronged.

As I noted above, Robert is the crown prince’s guard knight. He also fell in love with the Maria Campbell of this book, who sadly does not have one ounce of Maria’s heroine charm. That said, when the crown prince decides to incite a war using another country as proxy, he begins to realize that this isn’t actually what a good ruler does. So when Ellie shows up with an army led of the Empire’s top adventurers, Robert basically switches sides and gives Ellie the information she needs to resolve the conflict (though the proxy kingdom, of course, is dissolved). He then goes back home with his platoon, and Ellie goes with him… and then she slaughters the platoon and does *something* to Robert. He is found, badly wounded, and returned home to his adorable sister, loving mother, and furious father who is nevertheless happy to see his son alive. And then he slaughters his mother and sister. And then goes outside and starts slaughtering everyone in the shopping district. Yes, we do indeed see adorable children getting cut in two. After all this happens, despite insisting that he wasn’t in charge of his own actions, he is, of course, executed. The revenge is LUDICROUSLY beyond all possible need. Especially given that, frankly, Ellie is not a likable person.

Oh yes, one more thing: why the hell is this a Heart title? There’s no romance in it at all. Is it just because it’s a villainess book? Look, let me break this down. If you want a woman who has given everything for her country betrayed and finding new life with a business in another country, go read A Young Lady Finds Her True Calling Living with the Enemy. If you want to read a badass woman accused of horrible crimes fighting back and salvaging her reputation, go read I’m the Villainess, So I’m Taming the Final Boss. If you want to read this book only with actual humor, go read Prison Life Is Easy for a Villainess. But for Christ’s sake, don’t read this series, which should be buried at a crossroads with a stake in its heart. Fuck it.

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  1. And this is only volume one. I can’t imagine how much more sadistic the series gets in the following volumes. It’s true what they say about not judging a book by its cover. Thanks for your recommendations at the end!

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