Author: Kazuki Sakuraba
Illustrator: Hinata Takeda
My rating: 4 of 5
Gosick (light novel), vol. 1
Japanese transfer student Kazaya Kujo recently began attending Saint Marguerite Academy, nestled at the foot of the Alps, in the small country of Sauville. Saint Marguerite is a breeding grounds for rumors, such as the Black Reaper who comes in the spring (a rumor quickly attached to poor Kazaya), the ship that sank 10 years ago but comes back to the surface occasionally to lure others to the ocean depths . . . and the mysterious extra student who never comes to class. However, some of these rumors may be more than that, as Kazaya well knows. He already frequently climbs the maze of staircases in the academy’s vast library to find said extra student–a living doll who spends her days in the arboretum at the top of the library. This living doll, Victorique, quickly belies her tiny stature, cascading golden hair, and huge green eyes, however, by her pipe smoking, her incredible rate of reading . . . and her penchant for solving seemingly impossible mysteries through logical reasoning. When Kazaya and Victorique become accidentally involved in a macabre re-enactment of a fortune-telling experiment from 10 years before, Victorique’s brains and Kazaya’s bravery may be the only things standing between them and a watery grave.
Gosick is a brilliant re-envisioning of the Sherlock Holmes concept. Of course, seeing someone reason out what seems impossible to deduce in clear steps is always fascinating, and Sakuraba pulls this off smoothly. The historical setting of Europe in 1924 is also convincing–the atmosphere is just what I would expect from a country on the border of France and Switzerland during this time period. However, the key to this story’s appeal is the characters, particularly Victorique. She is exceedingly well crafted–unexpected, charming, delicate, brilliant, demanding, and enigmatic all combined. My one complaint when reading this was that some words in the translation are confused with their homonyms–for instance, the translator uses “hollow” when intending “hallow”–however, this is a minor problem, and the translation over all is quite acceptable. Gosick is definitely a recommended read, particularly for those who enjoy Doyle’s writing.