In the first part of the volume, a yokai tricks Natsume into letting him in - he wants Natsume to use the Book of Friends to summon a yokai named Karikami in order to restore a fragile old note. Natsume gradually learns that
the yokai had once loved a human woman. The man she loved left without telling her and married someone else. To keep her from being hurt, the yokai pretended to be the man for a while.
In the next part of the volume, Natsume meets an elderly former god who wants to return a mirror to a dangerous yokai
who, it turns out, was actually Reiko, Natsume's grandmother.
The volume ends with a story in which Natsume gets trapped in a jar by a yokai. Tanuma tries to save him and ends up in trouble, at risk of being eaten by yokai. He and Natori finally cross paths.
The first story was very bittersweet and part of an established pattern in this series, in which yokai have fond memories of humans they loved who have long since moved elsewhere or died. I couldn't help but wonder about the woman's part in this story, and what she thought about this strange event in her life.
The second story felt a little scattered - it was intertwined with a cup yokai and a dangerous yokai that could cause trouble for the Fujiwara household. Still, it was nice to see
Reiko again, even though it was yet another bittersweet moment in her life. The poor girl thought she'd finally found a human friend, and it turned out it was yet another yokai. I wonder if the series will ever touch on how she died, and who the father of her child was? I hope he was one of the rare humans she could trust, but I worry that he wasn't.
The third story hurt my heart. There was Tanuma, trying to help Natsume but worried that he was just making things worse. And Natsume, worried about Tanuma getting caught up in his messes - he still can't help his knee-jerk desire to keep his supernatural troubles from his friends. Natori is what Natsume might have been, if things had gone a little differently, and he knows it. He's jaded, but hopeful that Natsume can have the kind of life and relationships that he felt he had to cut himself off from.
Not as good as the previous volume, but still quite good.
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)