Stuck in a Time Loop: When All Else Fails, Be a Villainess, Vol. 3

By Sora Hinokage and Tsukasa Kiryu. Released in Japan as “Loop kara Nukedasenai Akuyaku Reijō wa, Akiramete Sukikatte Ikirukoto ni Kimemashita” by DRE Novels. Released in North America by J-Novel Heart. Translated by Andria McKnight.

At the end of the last volume I wondered where else the story could take us, and hoped that Selene had a “love epiphany”. Well, I got half my wish. She definitely has an epiphany. And while that is eventually good news for the future of the world this book takes place in, but it’s very bad news for every main and supporting character in this series. Honestly, I shouldn’t be surprised. This has always been on the darker end of Villainess books, so wrapping up with a “now we can get married and live a happy, peaceful life” would have felt wrong somehow. We certainly don’t get that, as Selene gets some very bad news about where the last two demons are located, and realizes that, in order to really, *really* fix things, she will have to weaponize being a hated villainess and make it her own.

As Selene opens the book, things are very quiet, with the only worry being Euclis wanting someone to kill him. The other problem, of course, is that they’ve killed four of the six monsters that threaten the world, and the other two are proving very difficult to find… at least until Etoile gets a future vision that tell him the fifth monster is a lot closer to King Euclid than anyone is really comfortable with. Someone has to deal with it, and since Selene is, frankly, the most powerful of them, it’s up to her. Unfortunately, she then discovers the location of the last monster. What follows is inevitable but will also lead to her downfall, so she needs to come up with a solution that will resolve *all* of this – the guardians, the king, the powers, her time loops, and Dier’s immortality – once and for all. That that solution is… well, it’s a happy ending IN A WAY.

The main reason this book succeeds and does not become just depressing as hell is the ongoing dissonance between Selene’s deadpan narration (and, if I’m honest, deadpan personality) and her kindness, which only seems to come out at times when she is forced to make a horrible but necessary decision. The decision she makes, once it becomes clear that she does have to kill the king, is to fight fate. In fact, it’s to essentially slaughter fate and burn the corpse, in an effort to ensure that the cycle of this happening over and over, Dier being immortal but sad, and her being constantly killed and getting increasingly jaded. At least here she can weaponize that jadedness. I did appreciate that almost everyone gets that something is going on – no one, especially not Dier or her sister, believe she’s suddenly turned mad with power, and they all know she’s kind. It is a bit frustrating having her blow off telling them what she’s actually doing, but I get it.

So, in the end, it all ends in fire… minus a cute epilogue that is thematically appropriate but perhaps a bit too pat for my liking. This was a solid little tragedy in the end, a nice change of pace from other “you are NO LONGER my fiancee!” books.

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