The stories in each volume of Book Girl are relatively self-contained, but this book really builds off of previously established characters and plot lines. At least read book 3 (Book Girl and the Captive Fool) first, but better yet to start at the beginning (Book Girl and the Suicidal Mime).
With Tohko’s college exams on the horizon, Konoha is left strangely devoid of literary club activities and somehow ends up helping the music teacher alongside Kotobuki after school. Then one of Kotobuki’s friends goes missing…
As always summarizing the premise of a literature eating goblin in school form and her trusted club mate embarking on adventures that parallel great literary works makes Book Girl sound like a much lighter series than it is. The events, themes and tone of these books are incredibly dark and troubling. Heavy and tragic subjects are the norm here, not the exception, and The Corrupted Angel continues the upward trend in intensity.
Kotobuki is a wonderful supporting character, and it was great to see her featured in a story that wasn’t just fantastic and gripping in its own right, but also tied to numerous established plot threads, explored several relationships between established characters, and added amazing depth to Konoha’s personal backstory.
The framework literary story here is established immediately as Phantom of the Opera, and it’s used perfectly to enhance both the story and suspense as things unfold. It’s starts more subtly creepy than previous books which just serves to increase the tension and eventual impact as things get worse. The parallel storytelling here is just phenomenal. This book had me guessing all the way to the end, and then threw in some more mind-blowing revelations in the epilogue for good measure.
It’s the little touches and the fact that compelling, flawed characters are firmly at the center of every book that makes this series so impressive. I also like that it’s progresses forward in time. The looming separation of Tohko’s graduation adds an interesting complication to everything.
I’ll refrain from further detail to avoid spoilers, but I can’t recommend this series highly enough. Book Girl and the Corrupted Angel is yet another intricate, compelling psychological thriller with tons of layers and an incredible atmosphere of tension and emotion.