Illustrated by Nekokurage
After figuring out what ailment has stricken one of the emperor’s concubines and their child, Maomao has been instructed by the emperor to nurse his concubine back to health. The ladies-in-waiting, though, have made her job much more difficult, by questioning her methods at every turn and continuing to use the banned poisonous foundation on their mistress. Maomao shames the offending lady-in-waiting, and suddenly al the others fall in line as well. The eunuch Jinshi is witness to Maomao’s sternness. Once back in the realm of her Lady, Maomao learns the emperor and his court are planning to put on an elaborate party in the garden during spring - which is still very cold. Maomao sews pockets in her clothes for warm stones, and quickly finds herself doing the same for most everyone else she knows. During her official capacity as food taster, she notices a food allergy amongst one of the other concubines, and someone deliberately trying to poison her.
There are so many layers of political and court intrigue! Maomao is much more confident in this volume, and some of it stems from her assuredness that she will not be staying in court forever. She doesn't care if all the ladies-in-waiting like her, so this gives her a sense of authority that is fun to read. There is something interesting revealed this volume - that Maomao may derive pleasure from ingesting poison, which led to her having a built-up immunity that serves her well as court food-taster, so I'm hoping we'll get some more of her past with poisons.
Maomao learns some of the history of the Imperial Court, and the ladies talk about the previous emperor's fondness for young girls as concubines. One of the current concubines is 14, but was taken as concubine when she was nine. The current emperor doesn't visit her, but this detail might disturb some readers. It does lean on history for inspiration, as some concubines were pressed into service at young ages in Imperial Courts of China.
Sara's Rating: 8/10
Suitability Level: Grades 9-12
Reviews of previous volumes in this series: vol 1
Publisher: Square Enix
Publication Date: February 9, 2021
ISBN: 9781646090716 (Paperback)
Tags: Rating: 8/10, Suitability: High School, Manga, Historical Fiction, Square Enix
I've been reading manga and comicbooks for years. Now, I write reviews and other helpful things for School Librarians, teachers, parents, and students.
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