Lonely Castle in the Mirror | Mizuki Tsujimura


Lonely Castle in the Mirror by Mizuki Tsujimura 

Out now from Erewhon Books; 384 pages. 

Content Warnings: Discussions of anxiety, bullying, abuse, and sibling death. 

About the Author: “Tsujimura is an award-winning novelist, she is best known for her mystery and children novels. She studied at Chiba University and won the Naoki Prize in 2012 for Kagi no nai Yume wo Miru (I Saw a Dream Without a Key), and in 2018 she won the Japan Booksellers’ Award for her novel Kagami no Kojo (Solitary castle in the mirror)” (bio taken from author’s Goodreads).

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“You’re battling every single day, aren’t you?”

Lonely Castle in the Mirror follows a young girl named Kokoro who was bullied so badly she stopped going to school. She hardly leaves her room, until one day her mirror starts glowing. When she touches it, she falls into the foyer of a castle and into a fantasy world. There, a girl in a wolf mask tells Kokoro that a key that grants one wish has been hidden somewhere in the building.

However, there are six other kids in the castle who are also looking for the key, and only one of them will have their wish come true. As she explores this strange fantasy world, Kokoro starts to realize that she might have more in common with the other kids than she initially thought—and she might even become friends with them. 

I absolutely loved this novel. It’s one of those stories that you start before bed and stay up all night reading. The world-building is intricate yet also vague. The overseer of the castle was a girl in a frilly dress and a wolf mask who could teleport. Her rules for the castle were strict: if the kids were not out of the place by 5 P.M., then they would be eaten by a wolf. Strange elements such as these help this novel stand out from other YA Fantasy novels. 
While the world-building is delightful, the best part of this novel is the characters. Tsujimura crafts such compelling and realistic characters, it’s hard not to love every single one. With seven major characters to care about, that isn’t an easy feat. It could have been so easy for the characters to run together, but each one stands on their own. Their connection with each other makes up the heart of this novel, bringing the entire thing to life.

PRR Writer, Emma Watts