Happy Saturday everyone! I’m delighted to be bringing you my review for Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone as part of The Write Reads Ultimate Blog Tour. Thanks you to them, and the publisher Scribner Book for my copy.
Twelve years ago my life began again.
But it was a lie.
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 sharply crafted mystery about love and betrayal, redemption and revenge, Mirrorland is a propulsive, page-turning debut about the power of imagination and the price of freedom. Perfect for fans of Gillian Flynn, Ruth Ware, and Daphne du Maurier.
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, and is currently working on her second novel: a very unusual murder-mystery, set in the equally beautiful Outer Hebrides.
Wow, well this one is pretty dark folks. We follow Cat, twin sister of El, as she returns home to Edinburgh following El’s disappearance. Cat is convinced that El is still alive and the treasure hunt clues, alarming emails and disturbing notes through the door do nothing to dissuade her.
We are continuously travelling back and forth between the present day and Cat and El’s unusual childhood. That childhood at first seems almost charming, a life full of games and wild imagination. But as the story unfolds, and forgotten memories start to resurface for Cat, the disturbing truth behind these fictions starts to reveal itself.
There are a lot of twists and turns along the way in the plot and I wasn’t sure where we were going to end up. None of the characters are particularly likable, but what is happening to them is compelling and so you can’t help but get sucked in to the story. There is some redemption along the way though, as we find what sacrifices have been made along the way for the sake of loved ones.
The majority of the story takes place in the twins’ childhood home and it almost has a haunted house quality to it. Its certainly atmospheric and I did like the fact that we had a floor plan at the start of the book!
The book reminded me in a way of Pan’s Labyrinth in that children’s fantastical imaginings were hiding the darkness that was large part of their lives.
The only slight criticism I had was that there were several places towards the end where It felt like the book had reached a conclusion, but then carried on. This happened two or three times. I say a slight criticism because, in the end, the events that followed right up to the actual end, were satisfying , and I was glad they were there. Its hard to say too much more without giving anything away so I’ll leave it at that!
Overall, a really chilling thriller, something different to the usual books of that genre I’ve read, or certainly for me anyway. I’ll definitely be looking out for Johnstone’s next book, especially if its set in the Outer Hebrides!