Review: Mimizuku and the King of Night

(Note: This site’s central focus is on light novels officially translated and published in English, but at times I will post reviews for stories that have only been translated by fans. Please support the Japanese books that don’t get English releases.)

Mimizuku and the King of Night

Mimizuku and the King of Night

Mimizuku and the King of Night was the second book we covered in June’s summer reading, and was one I chose after being strongly recommended it from multiple sources. It is the first novel by Kougyoku Izuki, and it managed to win the grand prize for the 13th Dengeki Novel Contest. Though there are no illustrations for this one, it is still considered a light novel due to its simpler prose.

Mimizuku is one of the more unique works I’ve read, the dark and somber tone of the story established very clearly from the very onset. The protagonist Mimizuku is a girl wandering a monster-filled forest, and is described having chains on her wrists and ankles, and a number etched into her forehead. As it turns out, her hope is to be eaten by the lord over the monsters: the King of Night. When he refuses, Mimizuku has to try to find a way to change his mind.

The premise is strong (and certainly something out of the ordinary), and the characterization is handled very well. Mimizuku comes off as fairly unhinged at first, but as her background is revealed the mental strain she is undergoing becomes more understandable. The King of Night meanwhile is a mysterious force who primarily serves to drive the plot forward, but gradually becomes a well-fleshed character in his own right. Other characters eventually play an important role in the story, and I was impressed by how each of them were handled as well. For example, when a knight enters the picture to slay the King of Night, he is portrayed in a sympathetic light–as is the king who seeks to obtain the monster lord’s power. The characters are all flawed, but the author does not portray anyone as strictly good or evil.

This makes for a particularly interesting story when taking into account the style of the prose, which exudes a kind of fairy tale charm. Reading Mimizuku comes off more as reading from a storybook of forgotten folklore rather than a serialized light novel, thanks to the way the characters are handled as well as how the fantasy setting is utilized. It is not a world that is delved into deeply, but at the same time it never feels like it is coasting by on tropes from fantasy games and the like.

All the pieces of the Mimizuku story fit together nicely, creating an engaging and emotional character drama that I found difficult to put down. It’s a great standalone that carries strong themes, and is a good light novel to suggest for anyone looking for something out of the ordinary. Those who may be feeling adverse to tropes of the LN/manga/anime realm could also find Mimizuku a breath of fresh air.

Cho’s Rating: Strongly Recommended

3 responses to “Review: Mimizuku and the King of Night

  1. Definitely agree with you about how none of the characters are strictly good or bad, which is very interesting especially in a medium where protagonists and antagonists are always so strictly defined.

    One of my favorite LNs too and I’m glad I actually took the plunge and read it :p

  2. Hey Cho, did you ever write a post on just what you consider is the definition of a light novel?
    “Though there are no illustrations for this one, it is still considered a light novel due to its simpler prose.” — I once thought this, but there are many explanation-heavy light novels out there will would violate this rule. Others will claim that it’s the dialogue-driven storytelling, yet stories like Mimizuku would refute that since the dialogue to narration ratio fit western novels far more closely. There are also exceptionally long light novels, and light novels aimed at more mature audiences…
    It feels like the longer light novels hang about, the more its categorization blends into the rest of the novel world.

    • I go over what generally constitutes a light novel on my introduction page (see the top menu). Sometimes I review a Japanese novel that does not check off every single piece of criteria on the list, and just have to decide if it feels close enough to fitting in with the rest of the light novels covered here.

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