Lonely Castle in the Mirror by Mizuki Tsujimura
Kokoro doesn’t want to go back to school. After enduring painful bullying at the hands of her classmates, her whole body seems to rebel at the idea of returning to Yukishina No. 5 Junior High. Barricading herself at home, one day her mirror begins to emit a strange glow and, in a Narnia-like sequence, Kokoro is transported through the mirror to a magical castle. On arrival she meets a young girl in a wolf mask with an intriguing mission: if Kokoro can find the special key that unlocks the Wishing Room she will be granted any wish her heart desires. But Kokoro is not the only one on the hunt for the key.
Six other teenagers with mysterious pasts and their own reasons for avoiding school have also been transported to the Lonely Castle. There is, of course, a catch. The seven students only have the length of the school year to find the key and they all have to leave the castle at 5pm everyday or else be eaten by a big bad wolf. Will any of them be able to find the key before time runs out?
Already a bestseller in Japan, Lonely Castle in the Mirror is bound to delight English-language readers as well. Drawing on European fairytales and the painful moments that are universal to all adolescents, Mizuki Tsujimura crafts an absolutely beautiful book about the power of human connection and belonging. Like many books with fantastical elements, it has great crossover appeal: an amazing read for teenagers and adults alike. Dark, playful and so full of heart.