Lonely Castle In The Mirror by Mizuki Tsujimura
I had a bit too much fun putting this book on various trees and couldn’t choose my favourite – swipe and tell me which one you prefer! The Lonely Castle on the Mirror is a bestseller in Japan newly translated into English. I didn’t expect to be so affected by this book, by the end I was genuinely emotional.
Seven teenagers are transported to another world through mirrors in their homes to a castle. They can travel back and forth and are given a year to find a key to a room, the person that discovers the key gets one wish.
What sets this story apart is that each child is not attending school, a ubiquitous problem that is only growing. The plot allows the author to explore themes of mental health, anxiety and loneliness with these characters.
This blends genres such as fantasy fairytale, science fiction and teen romance and I was sincerely moved by the searing depictions of isolation, the difficulty the group have opening up to each other and the fears the parents have of suicide. I felt the main characters anxiety viscerally which was gut wrenching.
I find it fascinating that this has won awards in Japan which I think points to the very contemporary and serious problem of deteriorating mental health in teenagers. It’s a tender, compelling and nuanced story that will give hope and comfort to many. Thank you to the babe that is @tabbyaa at @doubledayukbooks for our copies of this wonder.