Book Review, Fiction, N2

[N2] かがみの孤城(こじょう)

Upon enrolling in the local middle school, Kokoro loses the courage to actually attend. While isolating herself in her room, her bedroom mirror begins to glow, allowing her access to the mirror castle, where she meets six other children who are supposed to be in school and a younger girl in a wolf mask.

Author: 辻村深月(つじむらみづき)
Publisher: ポプラ社
Lenght: 554 pages

If the title seems familiar to you, it might be because the anime movie adaptation just came out before Christmas!

Early on, this novel places the pieces that will be set into motion later on. As a result, the actual story builds very slowly in the first half, but once all the pieces slowly fall into place, it becomes clear that this is really the only way this story could have been told. It was also the longest novel I read last year and I was so moved by the plot and so invested in what was happening, that I could hardly put it down over the last 200 pages.

What makes Kokoro’s story and the mystery of the mirror castle rather difficult is that you should be able to anticipate future developments fairly well. Also, because it builds up slowly, it is also quite a challenge simply due to its length. My initial thought was thus to recommend it for early N1 and I held back on publishing a review here. I had time to reconsider though and in terms of language alone, I now think the novel can actually also be read and enjoyed with a N2 level of Japanese.

To gauge the difficulty yourself, you can check out the first 20 pages for free on bookwalker. The novel can be purchased digitally or on paper e.g. through Amazon Japan: There is the hard cover edition that I read, a soft cover edition in two parts and even a manga edition.

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