Angel’s Coffin by You Higuri (amazon)
You Higuri is one of those authors whose work I automatically tend to seek out. I’ve read Cantarella, Gorgeous Carat, and I keep meaning to read more volumes of Seimaden after sampling the first two. Angel’s Coffin is complete in one volume and while it doesn’t have the intricate storyline that you might find in a work like Cantarella, it does manage to serve as an effective sample of her work for people who might not want to dive in to a longer series. Angel’s Coffin features many of Higuri’s trademark elements like European settings, handsome yet tortured men, tragic unspoken love, and billowing cloaks.
Angel’s Coffin is a fictional account of the Mayerling Incident. The owner of the billowing cloak is Seto, a god who was imprisoned in a book and compelled to ruin the life of whoever sets him free. Marie is the unfortunate library patron who knocks his book to the floor and sets him free. She’s obsessed with the married Prince Rudolph, and Seto promises to help her with her love life. Seto’s master Baphomet is looking forward to a terrible fate unfolding if Rudolph and Marie get together. While Seto loudly proclaims that he doesn’t care what happens to Marie, his actions and regard for her tell a different story. He aids her in her quest to catch Rudolph’s attention against his better judgment.
It was a little hard to root for the Marie/Rudolph romance. Marie seemed mainly attracted to Rudolph due to his looks and elegant manners, and while Rudolph was trying to liberalize the government he was also an unrepentant philanderer. Plus, I think if any sensible woman was given a choice between a mincing prince in a military uniform and a cute looking former god in a billowing cloak, they’d go for the god in the cloak. The romance doesn’t end well, but there’s plenty of time for tortured looks and beautiful men suffering, something Higuri excels at portraying. While this single volume might not have the strengths of Higuri’s longer works, it has many of her typical plot elements and always attractive art.