Boasting something of an unusual
pedigree, to say the least, the most recent novel from prolific
Japanese author Miyuki Miyabe, Ico: Castle in the Mist, took
its inspiration from the Playstation 2 action-adventure game ICO.
As an avid enthusiast Miyabe was evidently moved to pen the
novelisation of the storyline found therein, and though she took
numerous liberties with both the world of the game and the
characters dwelling within it the end result is a novel that is both
highly inventive yet faithful to the initial themes of the cult game
which inspired it.
In Toksa village, every generation a
child is born with small horns. By the childís thirteenth birthday
the horns will have grown long and curved, and he will be sent to
the Castle in the Mist as the Sacrifice. Ico is one such child, and
his story begins as the Castle is calling for him. Those familiar
with the game will know that a young girl is trapped within the
Castle, however, and together her and Ico must attempt not only to
escape with their lives but try to work out the secret of the
Castleís terrible hunger.
Originally published in Japan in 2004,
Ico has taken a long time to reach these shores, and itís
thanks to the indefatigable Madman that it made it at all. The
resultant 370-page edition is a rather fetching affair, retaining
the de Chirico-inspired cover artwork of game director Fumito Ueda,
and has been superbly translated by Alexander O. Smith. Miyabeís
prose retains a stirring lyricism that perfectly underscores the
drama of young Icoís journey, her dialogue is, like that of the
game, sparse and cleverly elucidative, and the story she weaves
populated by a rich cast of characters. Itís an enjoyable tale
expertly told, easily as immersive as the game which inspired it,
and just as difficult to walk away from.