Last year Yen Press debuted The Bride of Demise, a new series from Torture Princess author Keishi Ayasato. After an intriguing first instalment filled with interesting characters and a compelling storyline, I’ve found myself eager to read Volume 2. Let’s find out if the series continues to offer such a recommendable read.
Back in Volume 1, we met our protagonist Kou, who attends Twilight Academy which trains students to fight against monsters known as Kihei. While on a mission, Kou’s group came across a Special Grade Kihei and while running away from it came across a mysterious Kihei known as White Princess. The two end up partnered together as a “Bride” and “Groom”, as Kou gets transferred to a special class in the academy for individuals like himself who are partnered with a Kihei Bride.
As Volume 1 went on, we discovered that Kou could turn back time, something he had been continuously doing to avoid seeing those he loved killed in combat with a particularly powerful Kihei. Now as we enter Volume 2, we reunite with Kou, White Princess and Millennium Black Princess (whom we met toward the end of the first book) as they prepare for the annual school festival and celebrate the Kihei having been defeated once and for all.
However, although the enemy of humanity may be no more – Kou’s troubles are far from over. At some point during the festival, our protagonist finds himself being stabbed by someone and no matter how many times he tries to turn back the clock and change up his day, it always ends the same way. Who would want to kill Kou and for what reason?
Bride of Demise is a story that felt like it wrapped up rather neatly in Volume 1, so perhaps it’s no surprise that this second instalment starts on the slow side. At least half of the book is dedicated to the school festival where Kou’s class are putting on a haunted house, something they’ve always traditionally done, despite being a class that doesn’t officially exist. And while it’s rewarding spending this much time with the cast in a more carefree manner after the horrifying events of the first book, there’s a nagging feeling that Ayasato hadn’t particularly planned for a second outing.
At the same time, what does take place across this volume is still interesting. We’re introduced to several new characters, one of which is another teacher for their class called Hibiya. Hibiya has been given an androgynous design by an illustrator Murakaruki and tells Kou on their first meeting that they may look like both a man and a woman, but their gender is irrelevant. As a writer, Ayasato has always proven supportive of characters that don’t simply identify as male or female and I appreciate that this is continued into Bride of Demise with Hibiya. It’s a small thing, but it’s very important (and rare) that this kind of representation is given in light novels.
We’re also reintroduced to Kou’s former classmates from before he met White Princess, which I wasn’t expecting, given how quickly they were put aside in the first book. Although the series has quite a large cast of characters to juggle even before bringing back or introducing new additions, the author does a good job of juggling it all.
As much as I am criticising the book to a certain degree, that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it. As always with Ayasato’s work, I found the novel compelling and finished it within two sittings which is unusual for me (particularly on a workday!). As much as I had my issues with it, I still found myself eager to see how it would come to an end, which is a testament to the strength of the author’s writing.
This may not be as polished as the first entry, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t enjoyable to spend more time in this world. The bigger question is how Volume 3 will go, given it’s the end of the series, but there is at least an epilogue here in #2 that leads into it, so it doesn’t seem like it will be as difficult a transition.
As previously mentioned, The Bride of Demise Volume 2 comes to the West thanks to Yen Press and continues to be translated by Jordan Taylor. As with Volume 1, the translation here reads well with no issues. There are a couple of typos that made it through to the final printing, suggesting it could have done with another QA pass, but they’re certainly not big issues. Volume 3 of the series was released in February, so if you’re eager to read the conclusion, it’s out there waiting for you!
Overall The Bride of Demise Volume 2 feels like a sequel we didn’t need and might not be as polished as the first book, but it still offers a compelling read. If you’re happy with the resolution of Volume 1, I wouldn’t recommend carrying on, but fans of Ayasato’s writing or those just looking for more from this world will enjoy their time with it.
Our review copy from Yen Press was supplied by Diamond Book Distributors UK.