I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone
Published by HarperCollins Publishers on April 20, 2021
Genres: Fiction, Thrillers, Psychological, Mystery & Detective, Women Sleuths, Family Life, Siblings
Format: ARC, eBook
Source: NetGalley, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
A thrilling work of psychological suspense with the startling twists of Gone Girl and the haunting emotional power of Room, Mirrorland is the story of twin sisters, the man they both love, and the dark childhood they can’t leave behind.
Cat lives in Los Angeles, about as far away as she can get from her estranged twin sister El and No. 36 Westeryk Road, the imposing gothic house in Edinburgh where they grew up. As girls, they invented Mirrorland, a dark, imaginary place under the pantry stairs full of pirates, witches, and clowns. These days Cat rarely thinks about their childhood home, or the fact that El now lives there with her husband Ross.
But when El mysteriously disappears after going out on her sailboat, Cat is forced to return to the grand old house, which has scarcely changed in twenty years. No. 36 Westeryk Road is still full of shadowy, hidden corners, and at every turn Cat finds herself stumbling on long-held secrets and terrifying ghosts from the past. Because someone—El?—has left Cat clues all over the house: a treasure hunt that leads right back to Mirrorland, where she knows the truth lies crouched and waiting...
A twisty, dark, and brilliantly crafted thriller about love and betrayal, redemption and revenge, Mirrorland is a propulsive, page-turning debut about the power of imagination and the price of freedom.
Mirrorland…first that cover told me about all the blows it would deliver. It’s dark, it’s intimidating and the abyss you’re staring at? Yeah, it’s going to pull you all the way under.
Not going to lie, I always wished I had a sister, but a twin sister? Shouldn’t that just come with a health warning, plain and simple? Your sense of identity is shrouded around being part of a pair. Mothers of twins the world over tend to dress them the same, do their hair the same and treat them the same. How to you break free when your treated as half of a whole?
The first chapter of Mirrorland is like walking through an eerie fog. Nothing is clear, nothing is recognisable, but everything feels more threatening. You know something has gone spectacularly wrong but just what is a mystery. Two sisters. The dark depths of the harbour. Blood. if you could have heard my heart and my breathing, you’d assume that I needed a doctor pronto! Whispered promises between those that are bonded through birth. Whatever happened you could tell that those they trusted now left them feeling like it was just five letter word.
Mirrorland has you turning those pages like it was the end of the world, well I suppose for two little girls it is. My brain was itching for the answers, needing to know more, feel more and it delivered with a sharp shock that was reverberated through-out my being. The story instantly grabbed my attention, and the details and writing has me wound tighter than a spring! The klaxons were going off in my head, the red alert was engaged.
From an opening chapter that certainly had me engaging my seatbelt to my favourite trope of the unreliable narrator, I knew this was going to be a hell of a ride! The themes investigated was cleverly executed; the obvious shockwaves through-out the community, past traumas and childhood experiences just added to the authenticity of the novel. When El goes missing after a planned boat ride to Anstruther (my favourite place in Fife) from Edinburgh, we get to experience a chain of events told through her twin’s eyes, Cat. She doesn’t for one second believe that she has drowned, even though the coastguard and the authorities are saying it would be impossible for to still be alive in the conditions. If she had died though, she would have felt it, right?
Mirrorland delves into family despair. A twin’s anguish and a husband’s pain. Kat’s stubborn resolve was intense and raw. Carole Johnstone, you made me feel in this one and that is just a testament to how incredibly strong the narrative was. The girls have been through a whole lot together and it made me connect to the plot and the characterisation more. Okay, so not all her decisions are good ones but she’s only human after all. We all deal with pain and anger in different ways. The book was everything I hoped for and more.
Mirrorland was a masterful work of art in pacing and suspension. Johnstone has lit a fuse and the impending explosion will rock more than your psyche. Deliciously dark.
ABOUT CAROLE JOHNSTONE
Here’s the obligatory third-person bio that accompanies most of my published work:
Carole Johnstone is an award-winning writer from Scotland, whose short stories have been published all over the world. Mirrorland, a psychological suspense with a gothic twist, is her debut novel.
Having grown up in Lanarkshire, she now lives in the beautiful Argyll & Bute, Scotland, and is currently working on her second novel: a very unusual murder-mystery, set in the equally beautiful Outer Hebrides.