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Nessa's Thoughts

Just a British girl who reads a bit too much.

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The Dead Zone
Stephen King
The Diving Bell And The Butterfly
Jean-Dominique Bauby
Clarissa, or, the History of a Young Lady
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Piper Kerman
The Cuckoo's Calling
Robert Galbraith
Black Butler, Vol. 10 (Black Butler, #10) - Yana Toboso Hello, volume 10 of Black Butler! It's been the requisite three to four months since the last volume. How time does fly, Yen Press!Volume X picks up where Volume IX left off. There's a storm outside the Phantomhive manor. Ciel has called a group of rich socialites (including a certain young Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) to his mansion on Queen Victoria's orders, and they seem to be dropping like flies. Hell, Sebastian, the demon butler died in the previous volume, bludgeoned over the head with a fireplace poker.So, volume X winds up with tensions grinding against each other, and lengthy explanations as to who is responsible or who has an alibi, etc. It's just a shame that these sections – even though they do reveal some vital information about the murders – are so dull.But all of a sudden, we're saved from all this miserable talk of whodunnit, when the Phantomhive servants start breaking down into tears about Sebastian's death, none more so than Finnian, who I swear is one of the sweetest characters I have ever read in any piece of fiction. I just wanted to give him a hug every single time the poor baby was on screen. Heck, even Maylene and Baldroy cry a little bit over Sebastian's death, going outside in the storm to try and find something which would clear Sebastian's alibi.If any of you have ever watched the anime, you know how Tanaka was like Alfred to the Phantomhive family? Well, he's semi-retired thanks to an injury sustained trying to protect Ciel from the kidnappers (spoilers: Ciel got kidnapped anyway), and usually stands around with a cup of green tea, laughing like Santa Claus. Well, he does have a cool moment in this volume. Woodley, one of the more sceptical guests, still thoroughly convinced that Ciel is killing everyone for his own amusement, tries to punch Ciel. What does Tanaka do? Executes an ippon, baby! (...He basically flips Woodley onto his back.)I was really happy to see this, so yes! Props to Yana Toboso for this volume. Tanaka needs more screen time! You're telling me that Ciel has two martial artists at his command, one of whom conveniently forgot about his advanced combat skills when all hell broke loose in the Phantomhive manor? Yeah, Tanaka. I'll be keeping my eye on you. Even if the general plot in the manga only rears its head once in a while, and is soon swept under the carpet in favour of whatever is going on in the current arc. I'll be watching you. Every breath you take, man.Ahem. So, after Tanaka wins a gold medal in the judo (sorry, baritsu) championships, we then go back to a moment in the previous volume, where Sebastian sent Hedwig off with a message. What could that message be? Well, apparently it was a letter to the local vicar, who happens to be a genius at solving mysteries. His name also happens to be Jeremy Rathbone. (Yes, I did laugh at the cutesy little Sherlock Holmes reference. Next time let's make his name Benedict Downey. Or Robert Cumberbatch.)(Also, Jeremy looks a heck of a lot like Lunge from Naoki Urasawa's Monster. At least in my eyes...)With Jeremy Rathbone at his side, Ciel is now able to solve the case, and everything swings back to Woodley. Earl Grey (who is just one of the Queen's butlers in the manga and not the hermaphrodite angel from the anime) puts on his serious business face, shackles Woodley (it also turns out this murder mystery plot was all a ploy to get rid of this corrupt businessman), and gleefully skips off to torture interrogate him.However, whatever happens to everybody else? Well, the storm lets up by dawn, meaning everybody can go home after breakfast, and everybody is glad to be out of that horrid situation. All except for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who still can't quite put his finger on something. So, he goes back to the Phantomhive manor, to be confronted with... Jeremy pulling off a rubber mask and revealing his true identity. Gasp! It was Sebastian all along!Pfft, please. Were prosthetics that advanced back in 18XX, or whatever year Black Butler is supposed to take place in? Sebastian was able to completely disguise his face, voice, and personality for that long? He really is one hell of an actor butler.Sadly, this volume doesn't end on the next chapter of this arc, which involves Sebastian explaining the case at length, and then being asked for more details by ACD. What does Ciel do? He sics Sebastian on poor Arthur. In his true form. Holy crap. The chapter then ends with Sebastian and Ciel musing on the fact that horrifying experiences tend to turn people into much better writers. Which was a lovely slice of dark humour. I guess we're just going to have to wait 'til October when the next volume is released for that chapter. Also, sorry for spoiling the first chapter of volume XI.In short? This arc of the manga isn't really one of my favourites. It's a fun and sometimes clever little mystery, but it often becomes dull, even if it is trying to subvert what is generally found in locked room murder scenarios. There are fun little references to Sherlock Holmes here and there (look out for the snake paying homage to The Speckled Band!), but it's often mired down by dull dialogue, and pulls away from the mystery just when it gets really interesting. (Like hey, let's show the Phantomhive servants grieving over Sebastian whilst everybody else nervously takes tea in the parlour! (Also, if I were one of these rich socialites trapped in a manor with Ciel, I'd refuse food or drink for the night. Wouldn't you?)) All in all, it's getting a 4/5.(This review is also available on my blog: http://book-wyrm.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/black-butler-kuroshitsuji-volume-10.html)