Lonely Castle in the Mirror

Misuki Tsujimura

Lonely Castle in the Mirror explores teenage issues like loneliness, low self esteem and bullying. It’s based in Japan but their anxieties are universal. Six kids between the ages of twelve and fifteen (seventh, eighth and ninth grade) are drawn to glowing mirrors in their bedrooms that transport them to a mediaeval castle. Each kid is an outsider who doesn’t fit in and is refusing to attend school for a variety of reasons. When they arrive through their mirror portal a strange young girl in a wolf mask greets them and explains that if they find a key they will be granted a wish but there are rules to the game with severe consequences if not followed.

As they get to know each other I was reminded of the classic eighties film about a bunch of kids in detention called The Breakfast Club. This magical and fantastical novel tells a tale of friendship and teenage angst as the teenagers open up to each other. The story is centred on the perspective of Kokoro, a quiet and painfully shy girl who hints at being bullied and an incident that stops her attending school. The six outcasts slowly get to know each other and they end up becoming close friends that help each other overcome their problems such as broken families, over bearing parents and the struggles of school life.

“School wasn’t a place where you could talk honestly”


The first half is a slow and quiet read as the narrator reveals her anxieties and I wondered where it was going. A twist occurs half way through, or more of a revelation, that turns it into a mystery novel and I was drawn into trying to figure out why these kids are here, what connected them, and what was going to happen to them. It unfurls like the layers of an onion until the climax where all the clues are revealed like the end of the film, The Usual Suspects.

More Info

Publisher: Penguin

Year Published: 2017

Pages: 355

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