Lonely Castle in the Mirror: Vol. 1

Seven Seas. (Lonely Castle in the Mirror: Vol. 1). Nov. 2023. 224p. pap. $13.99. ISBN 9798888431931.
Gr 7 Up–Since entering junior high, Kokoro Anzai has been struggling to attend school, even after being placed in a special program for those who miss too many classes. Anxiety and stomach pains have plagued her since a bully at school, Sanada, cruely had her clique freeze Kokoro out. But while at home, Kokoro’s mirror begins to glow and she’s able to step through into a castle where she is greeted by a young girl in a wolf mask named Ookami-sama. On her second visit, there are six other junior high students, and they are offered the chance to search for a key. Whoever finds the key before the deadline will be granted any one wish, and during the day, they can travel to and from the castle via their mirrors whenever they choose. The castle holds a wish, but it may also be the place where Kokoro can finally belong and begin to face her traumatic past. Interspersed throughout are connections to familiar fairy tales. For example, the seven chosen are referred to as Red Riding Hoods, and wolves will swallow them up if they stay too late. The illustrated backgrounds really impact the story as Taketomi knows just what to include and when.
VERDICT Tsujimura’s novel has been skillfully brought to life in this manga adaptation. Highly recommended.

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