Lonely Castle In The Mirror

Lonely Castle In The Mirror by Mizuki Tsujimura is a fantasy recently translated into English. Kokoro hasn’t been to school in some time, and as she rests, a world in the mirror appears.

All quotes are from an advanced reader copy, and may or may not reflect the published edition.

From Goodreads:
Seven students are avoiding going to school, hiding in their darkened bedrooms, unable to face their family and friends, until the moment they discover a portal into another world that offers temporary escape from their stressful lives. Passing through a glowing mirror, they gather in a magnificent castle which becomes their playground and refuge during school hours. The students are tasked with locating a key, hidden somewhere in the castle, that will allow whoever finds it to be granted one wish. At this moment, the castle will vanish, along with all memories they may have of their adventure. If they fail to leave the castle by 5 pm every afternoon, they will be eaten by the keeper of the castle, an easily provoked and shrill creature named the Wolf Queen.

Delving into their emotional lives with sympathy and a generous warmth, _Lonely Castle in the Mirror_ shows the unexpected rewards of reaching out to others. Exploring vivid human stories with a twisty and puzzle-like plot, this heart-warming novel is full of joy and hope for anyone touched by sadness and vulnerability.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Characters: 7 | Atmosphere: 9 | Writing: 6 | Plot: 7 | Intrigue: 7 | Logic: 4 | Enjoyment: 7
Total: 6.71 / 3 Stars

“Don’t let them get to you,” she said, her voice stern. “There are bullies like them everywhere, and there always will be.”

This book surprised me with the tough topics it handles in a fantastical way. Each child had their own individual story, each was challenged differently. The stories, while across different moments in life, stand to remain relevant throughout time. There were moments some of the kids were annoying to me, but in the end, I still found myself rooting for each and every one of them- something I didn’t expect.

“That girl robbed me of time.”

There were some issues that I can only suspect are due to the translation. The dialogue felt harsh, or choppy at times. Sometimes even felt overly formal, or as though I was missing some social context. As I’ve read translated works before, I know this standard and expect it generally at this point. However, I can imagine that other readers may have a hard time with this.

“Everyone’s circumstances were different. She’d thought this before, but after hearing Ureshino’s story, it hit home even more clearly.”

Overall, I had a lot of fun reading this story and cheering each of the kids on. Their stories pulled on my heartstrings and really brought some emotion out of me. I wish I had more context over how the world itself was managed to be created fully, but the ending tied things up in a really beautiful way.

“Hunting for the key, making a wish, and losing their memories—it was still too soon for all that.”

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Read more reviews here.