The Reincarnated Villainess Won’t Seek Revenge, Vol. 2

By Akako and Hazuki Futaba. Released in Japan as “Tensei Shita Akuyaku Reijō wa Fukushū o Nozomanai” by Mag Garden Novels. Released in North America by Cross Infinite World. Translated by JCT.

Sometimes authors have to admit that they have certain strengths and weaknesses. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult for the author themselves to be able to spot what their weakness actually is. Trust me, I’ve yelled at far too many light novel authors who think that falling over into someone’s tits is “funny”. So, I will state up front: the author of this series is not all that good at writing romance. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed the book. But I basically enjoyed all the parts of the book that were Mary and Albert waffling around trying to figure out their love a lot less than I did things like all the action sequences, close encounters with certain death, and seeing deep into the mind of our very disturbed antagonist, who is taking game theory far more than it really needs to go. Now, in the end this book remains a romance novel, so you can argue it failed. But the middle bits ARE really good.

The day has been saved, the new king is on the throne, and the need for vengeance (mostly) no longer lies in everyone’s hearts. Sure, Queen Tia is still missing and presumably at large, but that’s a problem for a future date. That said, Mary is trying to decide what to do now, return to the place she grew up or stay as a handmaid to the knights. Then she gets waylaid by Albert, who proposes on the spur of the moment. She clearly has feelings for Albert, but she has fear as well – she worries that he loves Rosemary, and just sees her as a vessel for her soul. So she can’t say yes straight away, but she doesn’t want to say no either. And then, unfortunately, everything collapses as Rosemary’s funeral detail, with Reynaldo guarding her coffin, is attacked by bandits, and Mary herself is facing an assassination attempt. Guess we really do need to concentrate on Queen Tia.

Leaving aside its flaws, the author does some things very well indeed. The dramatic sequences in this book sing, moving at a very fast clip and showing a genuine sense of tension and menace, particularly whenever Queen Tia shows up. We get to know Tia a lot more in this second volume, and she’s just as unpleasant as you can imagine, but unlike a lot of “villainess” books content to make the antagonist rather shallow and one-note, we go deep into Tia disturbing psyche and see how much she truly enjoys seeing others suffer. It’s thus both cathartic and rather disquieting when we also focuses on the moments before her own execution, when she realizes that she won’t be able to manipulate her way out of this one. The one bit of the romance that did interest me was Reynaldo and Mary’s stupid plan to have Mary pretend to lose all of Rosemary’s memories, a scheme thankfully interrupted by the person who should most be dealing with this.

This is the final volume, so happy ever afters all around. Usually I say that a book starts great but tails off, or starts slow and then picks up. This is a rare book where you read it for the middle.

The Reincarnated Villainess Won’t Seek Revenge, Vol. 1

By Akako and Hazuki Futaba. Released in Japan as “Tensei Shita Akuyaku Reijō wa Fukushū o Nozomanai” by Mag Garden Novels. Released in North America by Cross Infinite World. Translated by JCT.

With the glut of villainess books we’ve seen in recent years, it can help to know which bucket to put them in, in order to help with expectations. One of the easiest is “how serious is the story being told?”. On the one side you have titles like My Next Life As a Villainess, or the initial parts of Young Lady Albert Is Courting Disaster, where we know that the villainess tropes are being used to have a rollicking good time. On the other side you get titles like I Swear I Won’t Bother You Again!, where the reality of what’s happened leads to trauma and severe mental strain. This new title, The Reincarnated Princess Won’t Seek Revenge, is not as dark as that, but it’s definitely more on the serious side of the scale. Mary just wants to life a happy, peaceful life in her new reincarnation, and not worry about her old life as Rosemary. Unfortunately, agency is an issue here. Others want the revenge she does not.

Rosemary Hubert, brought up to be engaged to the crown prince, is accused of terrible crimes she didn’t commit and hung at the gallows. Now the prince is married to Tia, the woman who brought this miscarriage of justice about. Eighteen years later, Mary Edigma suddenly regains her old memories of Rosemary – she was reincarnated as a rural baron’s daughter. She wants nothing more but to ignore court politics and live a new life… but the crown is calling in various noble daughters to serve as handmaids in the palace, in the hopes that one of them will prove to be a wife to Crown Prince Rizel, who has not really shown interest in anyone yet. Once there, she’s forced to interact with both Rosemary’s childhood friend Albert, now a knight, and her younger brother Reynaldo, now a duke. And both men are hellbent on at last getting the revenge for Rosemary’s death they’ve sought all these years.

There are some romance aspects to this book, of course. Prince Rizel falls deeply in love at first sight with Mary, mostly because she doesn’t fall all over him. Albert is still deeply in love with Rosemary, and transfers that to Mary quickly. And, in a creepier vein, Reynaldo is quite content to make Mary his, as “they’re no longer related” with her new reincarnation. But for the most part this volume is about the need for revenge, and who it’s really for. Mary insists that because she herself does not need revenge, the others should stop, but this ignores the suffering they’ve been through all these years. Likewise, both Reynaldo and Albert lie to Mary’s face a couple times about the revenge itself, because they will find it easier to apologize after the fact than to have her show up and stop them in media res. Which, of course, she does. That said, the bad guy got away, so it’s very easy to see how the 2nd volume will go.

This book can be a bit didactic at times, and Reynaldo pushes a few envelopes, but Mary is a strong heroine, and overall it’s a good read.