With the startling twists of Gone Girl and the haunting emotional power of Room, Mirrorland is a thrilling work of psychological suspense about twin sisters, the man they both love, and the dark childhood they can’t leave behind.
Cat lives in Los Angeles, far away from 36 Westeryk Road, the imposing gothic house in Edinburgh where she and her estranged twin sister, El, 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 36 Westeryk Road, which has scarcely changed in twenty years. The grand old house is still full of shadowy 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 in almost every room: 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.
| Goodreads |
I want to thank Dave from The Write Reads for allowing me to be a part of the blog tour for this book!
“I was happy here. Mostly. And I’ve been so unhappy since. But I still know it’s true: you can never go back.”
Mirrorland was an unexpected read that was much more plot-wise than I expected. I expected to find a mystery thriller quite heavy in those aspects that would obviously deepen the reality and the lives of these twin sisters. Still, beyond that, I found a parallel of almost magical realism that I didn’t expect. I enjoyed this mix, but it can become confusing at times, and it takes away a little of the weight that the most realistic story has, which I end up enjoying more than the fantastical one. Nevertheless, I appreciate this unique perspective the author wanted to give since it makes it a pretty unique book.
This is a mystery book with fantastical touches that follows the lives of twin sisters; as girls, they invented Mirrorland, a dark, imaginary place under the pantry stairs full of pirates, witches, and clowns. Cat rarely thinks about their childhood home until her sister disappears, which forces Cat to return to 36 Westeryk Road. Nothing has changed, and the house is still full of shadows and ghosts from the past, which Cat will have to face again to get her sister back, which seems to be leaving clues.
I think the book has a quite tetric point of view and even a bit gothic at times, I like that especially because it’s a mystery and creates a good atmosphere for the story to unfold. It has a pretty strong start but also a bit confusing and although it kept me hooked, I confess that it’s not easy to follow. As I mentioned before, it contains surprising fantasy elements that I thought were a good touch for especially the beginning of the story, since it gives structure and personality to the characters, but then those fantastical elements begin to appear in other ways such as images and memories of the past, and they make it difficult to follow because they blur you from the main plot that’s the mystery behind the disappearance.
I’m not saying that these elements are wrong exactly, in fact, they make the book itself very unique, but at the same time, I’m not sure how I feel about it. I love fantastical elements within more mundane plots, in fact, that’s not a problem for me, what confuses me is how it has been used. I really ended up enjoying the mystery elements more as I didn’t really see the ending coming and I think that’s great. I’m glad that in the end, all these elements make sense, but while you read them and jump between chapters it can be a bit confusing and distracting at first. Even so, I think that this very particular element may be what ultimately makes it stand out from other mystery books; and its comparison with Gone Girl seemed quite interesting to me and I understand where it comes from.
I really highlight the atmosphere the author manages to give to the plot and I also liked the characters, I think they have the necessary personality to make them believable, but at the same time, there’s something very suspicious, mysterious, and dark about them, even in Cat who’s the main character, has that vibe of unlikeable character that tends to work very well in this type of plot. In addition, I also think the story itself and the way it unfolds is entertaining to read, apart from the chapters that focus on the magical realism factor as such that can be confusing because of how they’re incorporated, it has a good flow in it. As for the mystery and in the end, you want to know what will happen.
Finally, I would say the author’s writing style isn’t as easy to read as I expected, it was a challenge for me personally to get used to her style, which doesn’t mean it’s bad, it’s just different and maybe a little more structured and stylish, it’s pretty descriptive too, but I don’t find a problem with this as it’s pretty well built.
So in summary, there’s not much I can reveal about the book since I think the fun will come as you read it and you’ll find new clues in every detail, that’s always entertaining, it feels like a twisted and dark treasure hunt, with some much exploration in childhood traumas. Even so, it ends up being in its entirety, a good book that I would recommend if you want to try a different type of mystery thriller, as it incorporates elements of fantasy, but still follows the line of an intense adult mystery full of secrets. The characters are rich and so is the atmosphere of the reading. It can be a bit confusing while you read it because there are chapters that focus on the childhood of the girls of magical forms including pirates and witches and many fantastical things without explanation, but in the end, everything makes better sense so I hope you decide to give it a try since it has the potential to be a very unique book of its kind.
About The Author
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.
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