Back in early 2022, I reviewed the first volume of The Holy Grail of Eris, which introduced us to protagonist Constance Grail (Connie), and the ghost of Scarlett Castiel. Together they investigate the case that led to Scarlett’s execution while hoping to take revenge on those who had a hand in her death. Now they’ve stumbled upon something called The Holy Grail of Eris, but who or what could it be? With Volume 2 in hand, let’s see if we’re any closer to the answers…
Whatever The Holy Grail of Eris is, it’s certainly dangerous. As Connie and Scarlett get closer to the truth, Connie’s best friend is kidnapped and several other characters hold information the evildoers don’t want falling into the wrong hands. It quickly becomes apparent that the only people Connie can trust are Scarlett, her fiancé Randolph and Abigail O’Brien, who came to Connie’s rescue earlier in the story.
As Connie gets closer to the truth, it quickly becomes apparent that the whole kingdom is in danger and that this is a much bigger threat than our protagonist and Scarlett first thought. And figuring out how to resolve it becomes even more complicated with a powerful hallucinogenic drug resurfacing and being used by the nobility. With this in circulation, it becomes more difficult for Connie to figure out what’s connected to the drug ring and what’s linked to The Holy Grail of Eris plot.
Back when I reviewed Volume 1 of The Holy Grail of Eris, I criticised the book for feeling like it was part of a bigger whole without a satisfying conclusion all of its own. Having now read Volume 2, I can say that the feeling I had back then persists in this book. The problem is that this release feels distinctly like the middle of the story; if this was one novel as opposed to three, I suspect everything that happens here would firmly sit in the centre of one book, sandwiched between the events of #1 and no doubt completed in #3.
The trouble is that while quite a lot happens in this book it also feels like little of significance comes to pass. Yes, we learn Scarlett’s backstory as well as that of Randolph’s previous wife Lily Orlamunde, but in the grand scheme of things, neither of these events leads this release to a conclusion. This is a small piece of a bigger picture, which is making it increasingly obvious that if you want to read this series you’d be better off reading the three volumes.
I will say that one of the things I struggled with this time around is remembering what had happened before as well as who all the characters were (as there are a lot between the past and present-day events!). There’s a really helpful character profile page detailing some key facts, but that doesn’t show up until page 32, by which point you’ll likely have found yourself confused more than once. I wish there had been a ‘story so far’ summary at the beginning or at least the character profiles. It would have helped me get back up to speed rather than having to flip through Volume 1 to try and connect the dots.
Another issue I had this time around is that it feels like Scarlett has a lot less to do. She does occasionally possess Connie to get her out of a difficult situation, but otherwise, it feels that her role in the story is relegated to making snide comments about Randolph and occasionally pitching in with some useful information from the past. It’s a shame really as she’s by far one of the best characters in the series, second perhaps to Abigail who appears to have a fascinating backstory that the author doesn’t seem interested in fully exploring.
With the end of this story in sight with Volume 3, I’m hoping a lot of the problems I have here will be ironed out. After all, often the midpoint of a story winds up being less interesting as it’s exposition filled and aims to connect the dots between the beginning and the end. If you’re invested in the mystery so far then this book certainly won’t put you off continuing, which is perhaps the most important thing. As long as the series manages to stick the ending. most of the hiccups here won’t remain in our minds for long.
The Holy Grail of Eris Volume 2 comes to the West thanks to Yen Press and has continued to be translated by Winifred Bird. The translation reads well with no problems to note. Volume 3 of the series is already available and Volume 4 (which appears to be an after-story/side story), is scheduled for an English release in October.
Overall, while this second volume of The Holy Grail of Eris has a few issues concerning its narrative and structure it’s not enough to put off anyone who enjoyed the first book. The fate of the series and whether it’ll be memorable or not rests on Volume 3, which I sincerely hope manages to deliver a satisfying conclusion.