Drama, Fantasy, Random Fiction

Lonely Castle in the Mirror by Mizuki Tsujimura

My interest in writing reviews is waning again, mostly because I do not actually sit in front of the computer. Once I start typing, the clickety-clack of the keyboard I have gives me the push to want to write something unique and entertaining (Is this just me? or do you feel annoyed by the noise?). I have little time left to start to collate all the data I have to make my end of year posts ready. I usually let a few book reviews lapse over to the next year, mostly because the number of books I read per year starts to look like an unrealistically huge number. If I do not review the hard copies I borrowed and read from my library, my graphs are going to look even more lopsided than they will, given the way I have focused on NetGalley this year. That said, it only means I am going to be freer next year of commitments and might finally respond to some of the random requests I get on my blog for reviews!

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Translated by Phillip Gabriel 

I am a little late in reviewing this book. It was released in English in April of this year, while the original was in 2017. There are many ways of approaching this book, and none of them in review format can truly prepare you for the randomness of what you will be getting. I have not read enough Japanese translated works to claim a generalization that they all defy genres the way this one does, but I have read a few which border on the same policy to feel that it might be something that is more often present than not.
The base genre of this has to be fantasy/magical realism, either work. The backdrop is more severe than that. It tackles bullying and an aspect of truancy that cannot be dealt with by simple enforcement. I am confident that certain parts of the globe have a different school life, but the ones described here are more reminiscent of my own experiences at school. I was more of a background player but still managed to get entangled in a few quarrels that reached the teacher’s attention. I observed more dramatic events from the outside, thankful to not be involved because I saw no way that I could have dealt with the repercussions.
Here we have Kokoro, whose problems start due to a slight misunderstanding, leading another girl to launch a campaign against her, driving her away from her school. One fine day, as she hides from her life, she walks into her mirror, and life is never the same again.
The lesser said about the world inside the mirror, the better. Since it is a core part of the narrative, a lot of time and attention is given to it. The only issue was I guessed the twist a while before the others did, which put me off a little because it seemed so obvious. The epilogue salvaged some of that disappointment for me.
I would recommend this to the more adventurous reader who does not mind being tricked a time or two during the course of a narrative.
The translation is also seamless. I did not feel like it interrupted the narrative while simultaneously giving me a window into another culture and its general day-to-day differences to my own, even in this increasingly cosmopolitan and narrowing world that we live in.
I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers but the review is entirely based on my own reading experience.

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