You Higuri – Go!Comi – 2008 – 1 volume
I liked this quite a bit! It reads like a cross between Ludwig II and Cantarella, two other series by Higuri that I really enjoyed. Ludwig II is my hands-down favorite by Higuri, but Cantarella had a lot to like about it as well, mainly the demonic themes it mixed with Higuri’s usual European period setting. Angel’s Coffin is closer in time and setting to Ludwig II, taking place in Vienna in the late 1880s (Ludwig II is Bavaria right around the turn of the century). Higuri said in the end notes that she had a lot of leftover research from Ludwig II, thus this story.
It’s a fairly simple story. It’s a fictionalized account of the lover’s suicide committed by Baroness Mary Vetsera and Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria. The circumstances of the real event are unknown, since it could have been a murder/suicide, a lover’s suicide, or a straight-up double murder. For context, after the death of Crown Prince Rudolf, Archduke Franz Ferdinand was made heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Franz Ferdinand was assassinated about 25 years later by a Serbian nationalist in an event that is often attributed as the start of World War I. So there’s where this book is going. Except it stops after Mary Vetsera’s death.
The demon is a strange element here, since the historic relationship would have been enough of a story, but he works well. Seto is trapped in a cursed volume and released by Marie Vetsera. The curse in the volume is actually that he eventually kills whoever frees him, so he goes about doing his best work. Marie has one request, however, and that is to meet the Crown Prince Rudolf, who she idolizes. The two meet and hit it off, and before you know it, they become lovers. Meanwhile, Seto finds himself increasingly smitten with Marie, and unable to actually kill her despite increased pressure from the one who imprisoned him.
It’s a great love story, and the book moves fast since you know it’s moving towards an inevitable and deadly conclusion. Higuri is wonderful with her period settings, doomed love stories, demons, and fast-paced action series, and everything she’s best at is in this volume.
There are definitely better books in English to pick up from Higuri, but that doesn’t make this any less of a great one-shot read. If you’re a fan of shoujo love stories, give it a try if you happen across it.