My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! Novel 10 by Global Anime

AbraxasDecember 11, 2021

This is a series that has had its ups and downs. That’s true of any series, really, but at times it feels more obvious with Katarina’s exploits than some others. In large part that’s because it was so abundantly clear when it kept going beyond where author Satoru Yamaguchi had planned; a few volumes definitely felt like authorial flailing around as the plot wobbled precariously. But when it’s on, it’s on, and this volume, while not quite a return to the form of the earliest books, is definitely on the higher end of things.

Partially that’s due to the fact that there are some deviations from the series’ norm. With the introduction of Fortune Lover 2, the sequel to the original game Katarina played in her previous life, we also got several new love interests, and as of this volume, it looks like two of them, Dewey and Cyrus, will not be joining Katarina’s harem, instead falling for original heroine Maria. Katarina is thrilled with this (at least in part because she has no idea Maria is in love with her) and is very keen to help them out, with Cyrus receiving the brunt of her aid in this volume. But as it turns out, he, Sora, and Dewey are not the only FL2 love interests; Katarina has another dream of Acchan playing the game and learns that there are two hidden routes as well, much like Raphael was for the original. One is Cezar, the prince she met a few books ago, but the other has yet to be revealed…or has he?

There is a very good chance that we do, in fact, meet Hidden Love Interest Number Two in this volume, and that’s wrapped up in the rest of the plot of the book. Cyrus, as you may recall, loves to farm just as much as Katarina, and unlike her, he donates his produce to a local orphanage. Katarina asks to tag along, ostensibly because of the veggies, but she’s also planning to ask Maria and throw Cyrus into her company. Unfortunately for Katarina (and, more to the point, Cyrus), Keith, Jeord, and the entire rest of the harem find out what’s going on and join in the venture. That only becomes important in the latter half of the book, however, because it turns out that visitors to the orphanage are expected to spend time with the children, and Keith, Jeord, Nicol, Mary, Maria, and Sophia are quickly roped into tutoring in various subjects. Katarina and Alan end up playing with the kids in the yard, and that’s when Katarina spies a child sneaking off the grounds.

Liam, as the boy turns out to be called, is an important character even if he doesn’t turn out to be hidden love interest number two. (We don’t know how old he is, but he seems like he could be in his early teens.) He’s a victim of the human trafficking operation that Katarina uncovered in novel nine, and, since his entire family was gruesomely murdered by bandits in his home country (Ethnell, same as Sora), he was taken to an orphanage in Sorcié. For reasons not understood by the orphanage staff, Liam has three times tried to run away, and they’re unable to get him to explain why he’s so keen on escaping. Katarina, however, is not going to take no for an answer, and that same caring nature that has won people her own age to her side is in full force with Liam. Viewed through this lens – that of comforting a child – we get a slightly different impression of her gifts. We know that she’s compassionate and caring, but her efforts with Liam also show that she’s willing to think outside of social norms in a way that none of her other conquests could. Even Sora and Raphael were a bit more easily understood; Liam is a child who is apparently trying to flee a better life than he’s had in a long time. While the other adults aren’t willing (or able) to look beneath the surface for what might be driving him, Katarina goes out of her way to figure it out, asking multiple people in an attempt to find an answer. It’s Raphael who is able to provide one, explaining that, like he once had been, Liam is likely afraid to be too happy lest it be taken away from him – just like his family was. It’s not something that Katarina can necessarily understand on a personal level (although her reincarnation and the loss of her original family may help), but her willingness to try makes Liam feel validated in a way that no one else has. It’s not really all that different from what she did for everyone else in her orbit, but Liam’s youth compared to her own age makes it stand out in a different way, and that helps the story to feel less like a rehash of the same old thing that’s been happening since volume one.

Also interesting is that Liam catches the eye of Sarah, the woman who kidnapped Keith. She reveals that she’s looking for people with “darkness” in their eyes to use in her Dark Magic experiments, and that Katarina has effectively rendered Liam useless to her by healing his soul. But more unsettling is the fact that Sarah knows far too much about what Katarina has been doing – namely her lessons with Raphael and the fact that she has the Covenant. That implies that either Dark Magic works to spy along with everything else or that there’s an insider within the Ministry reporting back to Sarah. Either way, it’s bad news for Sorcié, and Sarah looks to be an ongoing threat. The good news is that she’s just as susceptible to Katarina’s charms as most of the rest of the cast, and her reaction to listening in on Katarina’s words to Liam indicates that she may be able to switch sides. Whether or not that turns out to be true may be one of the most significant factors going forward.

Meanwhile the rest of the romance plot remains in full swing. Mostly things are still narrowed down to being between Keith and Jeord, with the most important information being that Duke Claes has zero problems with Katarina not marrying Jeord – and the tacit approval he grants Keith’s suit. The duke is much more interested in his daughter marrying for love, and he comments that he doesn’t think that she’s in love with Jeord, indicating that perhaps he’s been paying a lot more attention than anyone gave him credit for. Whether or not she’ll fall in love with anyone remains to be seen (although she does express a desire to in this volume), but no matter what, the competition will be ever fiercer as she remains oblivious to it all while she tries to avoid a doom that probably isn’t coming.

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