‘DARK AND DEVIOUS’ Stephen King
‘UTTERLY ENGROSSING’ Daily Mail
‘TWISTY AND RICHLY ATMOSPHERIC’ Ruth Ware
‘TIGHTLY PLOTTED AND UTTERLY GRIPPING' Sarah Pinborough
‘A HAUNTING THRILLER’ Women’s Weekly
‘TOTALLY ABSORBING’ T.M. Logan
‘AN UNSETTLING, LABYRINTHINE TALE’ New York Times
DON’T TRUST ANYONE
Cat’s twin sister El has disappeared. But there’s one thing Cat is sure of: her sister isn’t dead. She would have felt it. She would have known.
DON’T TRUST YOUR MEMORIES
To find her sister, Cat must return to their dark, crumbling childhood home and confront the horrors that wait there. Because it’s all coming back to Cat now: all the things she has buried, all the secrets she’s been running from.
DON’T TRUST THIS STORY…
The closer Cat comes to the truth, the closer to danger she is. Some things are better left in the past…
‘AN ADDICTIVE SLICE OF GOTHIC’ i paper
‘TOLD WITH THUMPING HEART AND EXTRAORDINARY TENDERNESS’ Kiran Millwood Hargrave
‘THE LOVE CHILD OF GILLIAN FLYNN AND STEPHEN KING’ Greer HendricksREADERS ARE FALLING IN LOVE WITH MIRRORLAND…
‘Dark, dazzling, full of surprises and perfectly executed’ Sheri K
‘An adult fairy tale, a domestic noir and a heartbreaker, all in one’ Rebecca W
‘Creepy as hell and absolutely brilliant’ Vikkie W
‘Poignant and compelling… What an imagination to have crafted such a story’ Carol C
‘A beautifully written story that holds you enthralled from first page to last’ Sarah M
‘This is a book that will keep you awake all night’ Maria P
‘Hugely compelling…I found the entire book officially unputdownable!’ Alexandra G
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 358 members
Great one!!! An author I discover with this one, I will have to look her up see if she has written anything else because, this was great. Great pace, strong plot and twist, the characters had good depth and were interesting! Definitely a good discovery for me and one I will happily share around!!
Thank you NetGalley and HarperCollins UK for granting me an e-galley of Mirrorland to review! Cat and El are identical twins supposedly able to sense even the slightest pain in one another. Throughout their childhood, they spent their lives inside a fantasy world Mirrorland - a world populated by pirates, outlaws, clowns, and prisoners. One fateful day, something happens and they had to leave behind Mirrorland forever. After being estranged for twelve years, however, El has disappeared and Cat finds herself returning to Mirrorland where El returned with her husband Ross (a mutual friend Cat knows all too well). While El is presumed dead, Cat is suddenly thrown into Mirrorland once again for a treasure hunt bearing the prize of her sister's fate. Every chapter in Mirrorland brings about a new surprise, each revelation making me question what is real and what is not. The fantasy that is Mirrorland is deeply rooted in Cat and El's childhood, blurring the line between reality and fantasy. Mirrorland's present timeline forces Cat to increasingly drag out memories in Mirrorland and reconcile them with the horrific reality of what happened the day they left Mirrorland. Many painful and uncomfortable truths are brought to the open as Cat and El's relationship is also dissected, bringing light to how the events in Mirrorland have affected them. The writing in Mirrorland is scarily atmospheric to the point I felt I had to take some breaks to reorient my sense of reality, but at the same time the book is incredibly gripping. Many of the stories, the adventures had in Mirrorland are imbued with darker truths touching on horrible abuse, love, betrayal, and familial bonds (e.g. motherly and sisterly love). Not one aspect of Mirrorland is wasted: it is chock-full of subtly planted arsenals to change the narrative; and just when I thought I had the truth all figured out, another information I'd dismissed as a throwaway line for "worldbuilding" in Mirrorland returns to add yet another massive piece of the puzzle I've no idea how large. The chills and misdirections are well-planned, although some of the revelations in the book may prove uncomfortable. Carole Johnstone's Mirrorland is a perfect blend of fantasy, mystery, and thriller as Johnstone takes the presumed innocence of childhood fantasy and rips it apart - showing the dangers of letting others shape your imagination. Mirrorland had been Cat and El's safe haven, and the degree to which (and how) it went horribly wrong is the true tragedy of the book. Ultimately, Mirrorland is a story of loss, healing, and recovery from tragedy, years of abuse, and manipulation.
#Mirrorland #NetGalley An unputdownable read. Cat and El created as children. A place of escape, but from what?Now in her thirties, Cat receives the shocking news that her sister has disappeared. Forced to return to Edinburgh, Cat finds herself irresistibly drawn back into Mirrorland. Because El has a plan. She’s left behind a treasure hunt that will unearth long-buried secrets… I loved El and adored Cat. This is a must read by Harper Collins. Thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins UK Harper Fiction for giving me an advance copy.
For the first few chapters of Carole Johnstone's "Mirrorland" my initial thoughts were, "what on Earth is this?" From the start of the story with 2 terrified young girls on the run,one with a blood-soaked jumper, then flashbacks to voyages on sailing ships,the Tooth Fairy ,scary Clowns,Pirates and hiding in Native American Teepees amongst other things being thrown at the, in my case mightily confused, reader. The latter all occur in the imaginary world created by those girls, identical twins El and Cat, being the Mirrorland of the title. Also part of the girl's Mirrorland world are a variety of imaginary characters and neighbour Ross ,the boy next door to their home at 36 ,Westeryk Road on the outskirts of Edinburgh. After their escape the girls grow apart then become totally estranged. 12 years later Cat,now living in America, learns that El has disappeared and returns to Edinburgh and the old family home that Ross and El have bought back. As events spiral out of control Cat finds herself pulled back into the past and not least into the scary and surreal Mirrorland which still exists for those who know where to look. From the barrage of bizarre images and 2 very different timelines,from the fantasy world of childhood to a police investigation, a quite amazing psychological thriller emerges and it's hard to believe that this is Carole Johnstone's debut novel. As the story unravels mysteries of the past are explained, the behaviour and motives of more than one character are seen in a totally different light. As I got into the book I was reminded very much of Stephen King ,then on reading the "Acknowledgements" at the end I read that Ms Johnstone cites him not only as an influence but also as the person who via his book, "On Writing " inspired her in her career as an author. It took me a while to get into this book with all kinds of seemingly unrelated events from past and present being narrated,some in the words of the girls childhood imaginations but as things slowly came together I was totally gripped ,and extremely impressed,. This is a very clever piece of writing with some great twists that works on many levels. The characters are believable and complex, not least the relationships between the girls and those close to them. It's atmospheric, horrific,clever, confounding ,frustrating (Cat's ongoing inability to take good advice from anyone) and even quite moving. If you like Erin Kelly,Tana French or even Stephen King you'll love this. Thanks to Carole Johnstone, HarperCollins UK and Netgalley for the ARC in return for an honest review.
It seems unfair to the author to say I was surprised by how much I enjoyed reading this but it’s the truth. Cat returns to her childhood home after her twin sister El goes missing and has to sort which memories are fact and which are fiction. At first I thought Mirrorland was a bit gimmicky but I really got drawn into the story as a whole and from the half way point I was totally engrossed. There was much here that surprised and at times shocked me and I never felt like I had it all worked out. I hope this is a great success and I can’t wait to see what the author Carole Johnstone does next. Highly recommended.
Date reviewed: September 11, 2020 When life for the entire universe and planet turns on its end and like everyone else you "have nothing to do" while your place of work is closed and you are continuing to be in #COVID19 #socialisolation, superspeed readers like me can read 250+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today. And it is way too hot to go outside, so why not sit in from of the blasting a/c and read and review books?? I requested and received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley, the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸. Perhaps everyone’s childhood memories are the same: part truth, part fantasy. But this house turned our imagination into a melting pot, a forge. A cauldron. I can trust nothing that came out of it. No. 36 Westeryk Road, an imposing flat-stone house on the outskirts of Edinburgh. A house of curving shadows and crumbling grandeur. But it’s what lies under the house that is extraordinary – Mirrorland. A vivid make-believe world that twin sisters Cat and El created as children. A place of escape, but from what? Now in her thirties, Cat receives the shocking news that her sister has disappeared. Forced to return to Edinburgh, Cat finds herself irresistibly drawn back into Mirrorland. Because El has a plan. She’s left behind a treasure hunt that will unearth long-buried secrets… A sharply crafted mystery about the power of imagination and the price of freedom, perfect for fans of Erin Kelly and Tana French. What a creepy book - this is an incredible psychological thriller/mystery that will suck you in and make you want to stay up late until you finish it. The characters are well-written and the plot flawless - I want you to read this book when it comes out. I can see recommending it to patrons, friends and book clubs. READ THIS BOOK
A complex book, with many plot twists and turns, that is enjoyable and reads well. I would recommend it to those who like a good thriller and a mystery as well. Cat is searching for El, because she is her identical twin. What she discovers is memories that she thought she had forgotten, and a whole lot more. I don't want to spoil the ending, so the reader will have to read it for themself, especially if they enjoy a complex thriller.
Batten down the hatches and be prepared for a stormy journey into an amazing world of imagination. Woven into this world you’ll encounter love, jealousy, hate and maybe even murder. It was hard sometimes to establish where imagination ended and reality began but that only added to the intrigue. The ending was superb and felt like a cliff hanger for something to follow. This book is excellent.
When Cat is called back from America because her twin sister El has gone missing she returns to many memories as when El got married her and her husband Ross bought the house the girls spent the first half of their life in. Then Cat and Ross are being interviewed by Police Scotland as they try and find out what has happened to El and relationships start to get complex until the cards and emails start arriving. This is a rollercoaster of a book what a great read and you get almost to the last few pages before everything is explained. Loved it.
Thank you netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this book. This is by far the best book I have ever read. It’s twists and turns where unreal. The storyline was a bit weird to be fair, so entertaining and sometimes dark. I found it a bit confusing at times only because it jumped from memories to reality with no in between. The ending was not as I expected but it was so much better. Very well written book great storyline and all characters where brilliant too. So worth 5stars and more. I look forward to reading more from the author in future.
A creepy yet fascinating tale of twin sisters and the make-believe world they used to inhibit back in their less than idillic childhood is the opening shot of this story. The real trouble starts when one of the twins disappears and the other realizes she never really knew her sister... Highly recommended!
Catriona (Cat) had hoped never to see her childhood home ever again after she fled to America twelve years ago. Most of her memories of her time living behind the red door of number 36 Westeryk Road were of being terrified and living in fear. The only time that Cat and her identical twin sister Ellice (El) felt safe was when they escaped into Mirrorland, their imaginary world under the house where they would sail with pirates, have pow wows in the tee pee.A world of fun and imagination. A Place where they were safe from harm because Bluebeard and The Tooth Fairy didn't know about Mirrorland, it was their secret. But now in her thirties Cat has been forced to return back to the flat stoned house that was situated on the outskirts of Edinburgh after she had received news that her sister had mysteriously disappeared. Everyone including the police and El's husband Ross believed that El were convinced that El was dead but Cat refuses to believe them. She finds herself irresistibly drawn back into Mirrorland where she discovers that El has left behind a treasure hunt. As she uncovers more clues she begins to uncover secrets that cast doubt on events both in the present day and the past. The chapters of this mesmerising story flip back and forth between the present day and the past and are narrated entirely from Cat's perspective. She was a complex character who was also flawed which was understandable when you her early childhood into consideration. Her two go to modes as a adult seemed to be living in denial and running away instead of dealing with the situation. I had mixed feelings about her character but I also couldn't help admiring her determination to uncover the truth behind her sister's disappearance despite the rift that had developed between them in the past. I can't say that I liked the younger version of El very much at times especially after the younger version of Ross came into their lives but we all behave differently when we are younger and whilst reading her treasure hunt clues it did appear that she had matured during the intervening years. I loved the descriptions of the girl's adventures in Mirrorland, how they used their vivid imaginations to escape the atmosphere of terror and fear that they lived with on a daily basis. This is a story about how fallible our memories of people and events can be. How the version that we remember might not be what really happened at the time and how people's actions and behaviour can be misinterpreted and misunderstood. About how people can hide their true natures behind various masks and are not always who they appear to be. This is a cleverly written, atmospheric, intricately plotted, outstanding debut thriller that had me glued to my kindle, totally captivated by this talented author's thrilling story. The characters were realistic and believable, the twists and turns of the plot kept me guessing and I experienced a wide range of emotions as the story unfolded. I couldn't put this book down once I started reading it and read it in two sittings. A absolutely brilliant book,worth far more than five stars and very very highly recommended.
This was a very artfully written mind-bending book. If you liked and understood the movie “inception” you will really enjoy this. It’s full of weird and wonderful concepts that make you think. It was absolutely ingenious! I will definitely be recommending this in book club as it’ll be interesting to see how other people perceive it.
Every once in a while you know you have read something special, something original, something so overwhelmingly beautiful and sad that you feel like your heart is breaking. Mirrorland is that something. Dark and unsettling, the more you read, the more you cannot imagine what the next chapter holds. It’s like holding your breath underwater, afraid to surface, yet more afraid to remain. I’m not going to say it’s for fans of… or for those who like…. because this book is like no other. It twists and surprises and then twists again, till you no longer know who is telling the truth or even who is who. Catriona and Ellice lived out their childhood in a world of their own invention. A world called Mirrorland. Populated with pirates, clowns, adventurers, Belle, Mouse and The Witch, the only other child allowed into their world was Ross. That is, until the girls are found wandering, bloody and wretched at the dock, waiting for a pirate ship to take them away. Many years later El has gone missing from her sailboat The Redemption and Cat still remembers nothing of that fateful night when they were both 12 years old. Having spent the rest of their childhood in care, El eventually marries Ross and Cat has gone to live in California. She hasn’t been home or spoken to El since the day she left. But now Cat is forced to come back. She is certain that El is still alive, because as mirror twins, she would know if El was dead. Except no-one believes her. Once Cat is back in the old house where she and El lived with Mum and Grandpa (El and Ross bought it back), she is forced to face her worst fears and discover the truth. But is the truth really the truth and who is leaving cards on the doorstep and emailing her clues? Convinced it is El, Cat is drawn into a nightmare world where only returning to Mirrorland can save her. To say this book is fantastic would not do it justice. It’s just brilliant and amazing and every other adjective I can think of. Many thanks to #NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
An absolutely mind blowing novel. Completely different to any I have read before. Telling the story of identical twins El and Cat and Ross the man they both love. As children they spent most of their time in a fantasy world called Mirrorland. I loved the way it is narrated and the depth of secrets which slowly emerge as the story unfolds. I didn't see the ending coming at all. Absolutely fantastic
I was blown away by the imagination of the story and the atmosphere it contained. A psychological thriller with elements of fantasy, but above all totally gripping. The suspense mounts throughout and only relents at the very end. Is 36 Westeryk Road in Edinburgh haunted? Is Mirrorland just a figment of the imagination? Finding out is an amazing journey. I found it totally original and hadn’t read anything quite like it before. I recommend it for anyone who likes a mystery, a thriller or even a well written, well plotted book!
A fantastic novel, full of twists and turns that kept me guessing till the very end. I won't spoil it for anyone but this is WELL WORTH a read for fans of psychological/crime thrillers. El and Cat are really well written and their childhood is described in such vivid detail that I felt I was watching the events rather than simply reading them. On that note, this plot would make an excellent TV series! Another reviewer had mentioned the genre 'magical realism' to categorize this novel and I would have to agree. The 'magical' elements are as realistic as they are dark. At times I found this confusing as I couldn't distinguish reality from make-believe. However, this made the events of the final chapters even more engrossing - I think the author WANTS her readers to feel just as confused as Cat is. All in all, a fabulous read! My thanks go to Netgalley and Borough Press/HarperCollins for the e-ARC in exchange for my unbiased review.
El has disappeared, but twin sister Cat refuses to believe she's dead. After all, she's leaving Cat a treasure hunt to follow... This was a truly sensational read, switching seamlessly between past and present, certain and uncertain, real and make-believe. It keeps you on your toes and makes you work - can you believe the story you're being told? Which aspects are real, and which are imagined? Do you ever have all the facts? And who should you trust? The twists unfurl one after another, like a deck of cards, and there's always something else that you've not uncovered, or another layer you've yet to reach. The writing is wonderful too - beautiful, but commercial and readable enough to keep you gripped - and the storytelling gets more and more ambitious. It's hard to talk too much about Mirrorland, the twins' imaginary world, without revealing something you may want to work out for yourself, so all I will say is that this is a brilliantly-plotted, inventive and moving story. One of my top reads this year.
This thriller is so addictive as soon as I finished I wanted the next or to start again. What happens when you hear that your twin has gone missing, I'd have a shock as I don't have a twin but Cat does or is that did. So Cat comes home to Edinburgh where the story is set from America where she fleed after a pain filled episode or is that another part of her pain filled life. There are some twists and a few major twists that as you'd expect change the story completely or it's direction. There are a few strange characters to add some flavour or is that texture who cares they bring something else but the 3 main folk are Cat her missing twin El & Ross. Well also there's Mum and Grandpa they are quite major. One question is who are Mouse, Anna, Marie and Roy what is their true part in the story there only one way to find out? The thriller had 2 parts the first life set in Mirrorland the childhood land of imagination very captivating and the second part is based on the time Cat returns and the missing El. This is a thriller that I hope you enjoy and can lose yourself in as I did, you may guess bits of it but not the majority or rather I didn't but so i recommend it yes completely.
It took a long time to get in to this book but it was worth it. This was really something different and I throughly enjoyed it. I will certainly look out for other books by this author.I apologise if this seems a little brief but I prefer to give my opinion rather than a synopsis of the story. Thank you Netgalley, Carole Johnstone and Harper Collins UK for giving me the opportunity to give my unbiased opinion.
This is an intriguing book about twins and their fantasy childhood world of mirrorland. Memories submerges with reality which has to be addressed when twin Ellice goes missing. Lots of twists and turns in this gripping and unique thriller which made me have to read on to find out what was happening next. An impulsive read. Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for letting me review this book.
This book draws you in to the fantasy world of the twins right away- Mirrorland- full of pirates and cowboys, all kinds of games and fun- although all is definitely not as it seems. The story dips between times as Cat, now grown returns to her childhood home, occupied by her sister and brother in law and apparently unchanged in decades, when her twin sister El disappears. Seemingly trapped between reality and her memories Cat discovers more and more about her childhood that had been buried deep within. This is definitely a story that would lend itself well to screen adaptation - Mirrorland is already so vivid that it would be easy to make it real! Full of twists and turns, misdirection and mystery this is a really compulsive read from start to finish.
Thank you to NetGalley and HarperCollins for this advanced copy of this novel. I found once I started this story that I could not put it down. It was a real page turner in the true sense of the word. Totally gripped from the first page to the last. Thank you for an excellent read, thoroughly enjoyed it. I highly recommend this book.
Thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins UK Harper Fiction and Carole Johnson for the ARC of MIRRORLAND. A complex, tightly woven story with a horrific treasure hunt. The atmosphere is very dark, a little depressing to be honest, playing on our fear of childhood horrors and nightmares; a story where it's almost impossible to know who is telling the truth. Extremely well-written and plotted. This is quiet horror at its best.
This is a strange but powerful book. I'll be honest, I struggled with it initially, but the further I got the more I understood it, and the more I loved it. So, what do we have? El goes missing while sailing off the coast of Scotland one day, and her estranged twin sister flies back home from LA. Now, with hindsight, I realise I made a mistake picking this book up when I did purely because it's only a couple of months since I read a book about a twin sister who goes missing in Paris and her slightly estranged sibling flies in from California. They're very different stories, but on some level, I suspect I couldn't help comparing the cold Scottish with the glamourous vices of club DJs in Parisian catacombs. So that one's on me, and it may also have meant I was less receptive to Mirrorland's early strangeness. Because entwined with the story of the police investigation and coastguard search, we had a fantasyland (Mirrorland) they created as young children. And I just found myself wondering about it all. Okay, their pretending to be pirates as children might somewhat explain the adult El's interest in sailing but it mostly seemed like slightly random filler during a pleasant but not exactly inspiring investigation into a missing person. And then things started to click into place and the whole story morphed into something rather amazing. This is a love story to literature and imagination. The shelter that we can find in its escapism during trying times. As its first life ended, the second life blossomed, and as the story unravelled, it showed a third life too. Yes, that random filler I was trudging through ended up revealing itself as a sophisticated and essential aspect of the whole story. For a world of imagination, it actually makes the rather fantastical reality seem plausible and realistic. It's a truly clever piece of writing that I can't help but admire. The plot twists and turns, revealing countless horrors (this book has more trigger warnings than a rifle range) and slowly uncovering yet more lies and deceptions. Every time I thought I had this figured out something else was thrown at me. The fantasy of Mirrorland creates a thick fog of confusion, a subtle questioning of reality that fits the themes of the book so well. The more I view it with hindsight the more I see the nuances that elevate this so highly. Johnstone doesn't tell a story - she crafts it masterfully. If you've ever truly got lost in a book, this is a book to set sail on once more. I enjoyed my voyage, and look forward to drifting away once more.
'I wasn’t there when my sister died. Because she isn’t dead.' I finished Mirrorland earlier this week and I can’t stop thinking about it! An exploration of memory, trauma and the power of imagination, this exceptionally crafted debut novel is dark, twisty and utterly gripping. 'The most dangerous stories are the ones we tell ourselves.' The story follows Cat who is forced to return to her childhood home in Edinburgh when she finds out that her twin sister has disappeared. As she attempts to untangle the mystery of El’s disappearance she’s also faced with the demons of her past, haunting her from within the walls of the house she grew up in, a house of curving shadows and crumbling grandeur. And underneath the house is Mirrorland: a vivid make-believe world the twins created as children. A world of darkness but also a place of escape... 'Perhaps everyone’s childhood memories are the same: part truth, part fantasy. ' Carole Johnstone masterfully blends the fantastical with reality, making us question what is real and what is an invention from the twins childhood. The past and present collide as Cat unravels the mysteries and secrets from her ‘first life’ that she has suppressed. The portrayal of memory throughout the book is fascinating, how we can misremember and choose to forget. The characterisation and relationships are phenomenally written. The intensity of Cat and El’s childhood bond is fierce and unsettling. They love each other, but there’s an underlying cruelty and darkness ever-present. Their relationship with Ross, El’s husband and a childhood friend, is complicated and volatile. Their mother is paranoid and sharp, but is also playful and full of love. There are no simplistic characters in this story, each is multifaceted and complex, making the narrative rich and thrilling. 'It’s easy to be tricked. Especially if you want to believe it.' Atmospheric, captivating and haunting, Mirrorland will stay with me for a long time.
I was immediately gripped from the prologue. What happened to the twins when they were children? Why are they so fearful? El and Cat promised to stay together forever, but something happens to change that. Years later, El has disappeared and Cat has returned to find out what happened. This felt a bit like a modern flowers in the attic. Lots of fantasy mixed in with reith. It was easy to read and fast paced. Addictive with plenty of twists and turns and hooks to keep the reader interested. Loved it.
An absolutely blinding novel., Dark, claustrophobic, and tense. Everything that seems good and wholesome in this tale shows it's rotten core eventually and that's one of the things I found so interesting. A look back at what appear to be normal lives yet the further you read and the deeper you dig the darkness starts to seep though the pages and you won't be able to put it down. It's not a feast of violence and gore it's far more subtle yet so evil and twisted, well planned and executed that it's sure to be on everyone's "To Be Read" list. I can only hope you enjoyed it as much as I have.
Brilliant!!! This book has everything. El and Cat are identical twins who fall for the same man. One fateful night dictates they separate, what follows is their tale of using their imagination to escape the horrors of abuse wrought on them by their grandfather and mother. Mirrorland is their safe space in the house. This story contains love, betrayal, murder and includes a happy ending on a desert island named after one of their pirates. Forced to relive her youth after El is found dead, Cat falls for her brother in law Ross all over again and ignores warnings from El from the dead. A definitive tale of intrigue and definitely worth a read.
This was not my usual type of book but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I really found it hard to put down, and I felt a real sense of being completely engrossed in the world created by the author. Definitely a book to curl up with on a winter evening.
"In Mirrorland, anything - everything - is possible. In Mirrorland, you are safe. Fear is never to be feared, horror is only make-believe, and escape is inside every bone and vein and breath and brick. And all it asks for in return is one thing. Only ever one thing. That you have to be brave." Mirrorland is an extraordinary read, well worth persisting with as the earliest chapters had me bemused. Catriona and Ellice are identical twins - "mirror twins", rare and special, as their mother always told them - but as adults they have become estranged, and now El is missing, presumed drowned in either accident or suicide. Cat returns to their childhood home in Edinburgh, where they once lived with their mother and grandfather and which is now El's marital home, and to the dizzying sweep of the imaginative world, centred on "Mirrorland", which they inhabited almost fully, it seems, until the age of twelve. A make-believe world inhabited by a cast of characters, of pirates and clowns, adventure on the high seas, terrors and escapes, the Witch and the Tooth Fairy... Can El really be dead? And how far can Cat trust her own memories? Dark, dazzling, full of surprises and perfectly executed, Mirrorland is a brilliantly atmospheric read which grabbed me and didn't let go. A couple of minor gripes: I don't think British police refer to an unidentified body as Jane Doe, and I'm very sure they don't say at the time of arrest "anything you do say can and will be used against you" (in either England or Scotland). A startling and memorable story with a tremendously satisfying ending. Loved it.
Intelligent and extremely well executed thriller. This creepy tale was mesmerising, i just kept turning the pages well into the early hours of the morning, unable to stop reading it. This is a complicated thriller involving twins in love with the same man. The setting is dark and claustrophobic yet it is magical and sad. It centres apon the twins past and present and the mystery of the vanishing sister. At one reveal I thought how incredibly brilliant the author had set the story up. Such clever writing. I can't really say much more for you have to discover the rest yourself. Read it. Highly recommended.
Absolutely loved this book! Loved that the twists were right up to the end. I liked that the story built up quite slowly then the last third was full of twists. Highly recommend.
With nods to Perter Pan and treasure Island, this is a heartbreaking story of twins, Cat and El, growing up in the confines of their large house where the basement is their play area and is transformed by their imagination into Mirrorland where they rule the high seas and the prison in Shawshank Redemption. The story opens with the news reaching Cat that El has died. They haven't spoken to each other for years and the story unfolds to reveal what went on between them in Mirrorland. It's quite a dark and disturbing tale with very well written character and plot twists which I did not see coming. Very good book.
An immensely enjoyable read with a plot that twists and turns and never lets go! I found the writing hugely compelling and I found the entire book officially unputdownable. Really great storytelling, will definitely be on the lookout for more from Carole Johnstone!
This is a psychological, emotive and gripping novel that opens with Cat; a woman in her thirties being notified of the disappearance of her twin sister El with whom she has had no contact since leaving Edinburgh in her late teens when she left Edinburgh for New York. Reluctantly she returns to her childhood home where her estranged sister lives and immediately repressed memories of a very complex childhood including Mirrorland - an imaginary world under the house where the girls could escape real life. El’s disappearance elevates into a murder investigation and while Cat is not a suspect El’s husband is. I did find it a little difficult to get into the flow of this novel initially as it flips from present to past times, but it was well worth persevering. This book was totally different to other psychological thrillers I have read, and I absolutely loved it!
I absolutely adored this book. An adult fairy tale, a domestic noir and a heartbreaker, all in one. I cried my eyes out at the end of this book and just couldn't put it down. Easily in my top 10 reads this year.
Creepy as hell and absolutely brilliant, this is an easy 5 stars. A fab read and one that I haven’t been able to put down! Absolutely loved it .
Set in Edinburgh my home City was a bonus. Mirrorland a make believe world created, as children, by twin sisters Cat and El . When El disappears Cat is stunned and so begins a treasure hunt to find the truth of what has happened. Ingenious in its construction this is a poignant and compelling tale. What an imagination to have crafted such a story which I couldn't put down. Sad, touching and a brilliant read.
I found the start of the book a bit slow but once you realise where its going its a really good story.
This dark and disturbing thriller took me on a wild ride. This is one hell of a page-turner. Id recommend this to anyone who enjoys psychological thrillers and being on the edge of their seat. Buckle up and get ready for a wild ride! Thank you to NetGalley, publisher and Carol Johnstone for an ARC in return for an honest review.
This is the story of twin sisters, so close that they can read each other’s thought and even have an affect on how the other behaves. Ellice is the elder, the poison eater, taught by her mother to always protect Catriona, her younger sister. They share a house with grandfather, every room an encapsulation of a fairy story, a legend, a circus … A truly magical childhood. But is it? As an adult, Catriona flees their home city of Edinburgh, running from dark secrets and bitter betrayals. She returns to her childhood home after many years when she gets news that Ellice is lost at sea, presumed dead. She refuses to believe this because of their close bond and revisits the horrors of her past in an effort to discover just what has happened to her sister. In the beginning, because of the intricate descriptions of the house and the atmosphere created by the author, I thought I was in a Gothic novel with supernatural overtones. This was enhanced by the appearance of mysterious letters, emails and clues. Slowly, however, the horrific history of the twins’ family is teased out, the story moving from present to past and back until that ‘gasp of breath’ moment hits like a sledge hammer. On a personal level, I would have preferred the book to end before the final reveal but it’s not my story. This is one of the most intelligently written and plotted novels I’ve read in a long time. There is an extraordinary cast of wonderful characters (just don’t go thinking you know or understand any of them) and so many literary cul-de-sacs that I was enthralled by every page. Highly recommended and the sort of book that bears a reread to pick up even more of the highly nuanced plotting. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Cat and El are twins who were brought up in an inposing, if slightly crumbling house in Edinburgh. We meet them as 30 year olds when El disappears and Cat come back from her life in California, for the first time in 12 years. El's disappearance is not the only mystery in the story and, as it unfolds , we realise theirs was no ordinary upbringing. The boundaries between fact, memory and imagination are blurred. What unfolds makes for a very good read.
‘Mirrorland’ is a thriller like no other; it’s dark, twisty and nothing is as it seems. The story follows twins El and Cat whose lives took place in an imposing house in Edinburgh but their world was created in a secret place called Mirrorland. They sailed the seas on a pirate ship and hid in disguise from the tooth fairy and they ran from the murderous Bluebeard. Thirty years on and the sisters have become estranged but then word reaches Cat that El has gone missing. So Cat returns to their childhood home, now owned by El and her husband, but there are more secrets to be found within its walls as clues and threats begin turning up. I really loved this thriller and loved its originality and brilliant layering of stories. I cannot say too much without spoiling its wonderful twists and turns but in Mirrorland the lines between reality and fantasy are constantly blurred. One of the best releases for 2021!
Haunting, nightmarish and thrilling - this book would not let me go! A bit Diane Setterfield meets Stephen King - very classy, brilliantly plotted and full of twists. I had a suspicion about the sisters which turned out to be correct but loved seeing how it all unfolded. An exceptional debut - I'll certainly be looking out for more by this author
I totally enjoyed this book, the creative make believe world of Mirrorland with its many themed rooms and characters that I felt immersed in while reading. Equally scary and fascinating how the story unraveled with a mix of fantasy and murder. I will be reading more by this author.
I picked this book initially because it was based in Edinburgh - a city I know really well. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this thriller as it’s not my usual genre. I was pulled in straight away and kept engrossed by the twists and turns as Cat investigates the disappearance of her twin sister, El. You will. be hooked right up to the last page!
Wow! From the start this book reeled me in! The prologue was eerie and quickly gripped my attention, I needed to know who these girls were and why they were out alone! The story was fast paced, with suspense throughout, it held my attention. So much so I finished the book in a couple of sittings! A fabulous storyline, cleverly written and the characters were described well enough that you felt like you knew them. The ending was amazing! I didn’t predict it at all although parts of it you could see coming as it was dramatically built up, despite cat’s denial! Really enjoyable read! Thank you for the opportunity to read it :)
Utterly bewitching, this is a book that cast a spell on me and held me captive until the last page was turned. Told from the point of view of Cat, who has returned from California to the house where she and her sister, El, grew up in, on hearing that her sister is missing. She is convinced that her sister is alive, particularly when she starts to find a series of clues hidden around the house. The clues provoke memories from the past, the time she spent in the dark faerie tale Mirrorland. This creates a wonderful atmosphere; are Cat's memories the result of an imagination fractured by guilt and grief, or did things happen the way she remembers them, the pirate characters and wicked villains conjured as the only way for her childhood psyche to make sense of the chaos and dysfunction in her life? As the police continue their investigation and Cat follows the treasure hunt to its conclusion, it is clear that she is in very real danger. The slippery, uneasy feeling of the novel really ratchets up a notch and the tension became almost too much to bear. The finale of the novel is amazing, the twist is both shocking and heartbreaking. This is a book that will stay in my mind for quite some time and I am looking forward to seeing what the author writes next. My thanks go to the publishers and Net Galley for the advance copy in return for an honest review.
Cat hasn’t seen her identical twin sister for twelve years since she moved to America, and now she may never get to see her ever again. El had gone out on her boat, and now both her and boat were missing. After days of rescue teams out looking for her, she was presumed dead. Unforgivable things had happened between the sisters, and now it was too late to be mended. Then Cat begins to find clues for her to follow. Is it El or someone that knows what happened to her? What is clear is that everything is becoming very sinister. This is a story that requires your full attention when you are reading it as the past begins to crack and the world that twins lived in as children begins to emerge. El’s husband, their childhood friend, is there to support Cat as the Mirrorland world and the characters that had been deep in her memories becomes all too real for her again. It is a creepy read with fuzzy images that I didn’t know if they were real or not. I love to read or listen to a book where it is silent as it adds to the intensity of the scenes that the author brings to life. The story is far more dark and disturbing than I thought it was going to be. It took over every thought that I had to become all-consuming. A fabulous story, one of those that is not over until it finishes with you! I wish to thank NetGalley and the publisher for an e-copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly.
This book totally surprised me. Reflecting on it I actually think I enjoyed it more after reading it than whilst reading it - strange comment but once completed the complexity and the very clever weaving of the story all came together. For a lot of the book I was not quite sure what was happening - were we in an alternate childrens world, a figment of imagination? Gradually as the story untold the reality and the imagination became together and the unfolding of the troubled childhood of the twins became clear. I thought this was an excellent book and cannot recommend it too highly.
Mirrorland is such an incredible novel. I was completely invested in this story of two sisters, actually mirror (identical) twins and the world they invent at 36 Westeryk Road. The plot is really original, creative and clever. It is suffused with gothic fantasy, mystery, myth and folklore. When El and Cat are children they invent their own world, Mirrorland, within the confines of their house. The detail is so intricate that the author provides a map. This is their playground where they act out stories of pirates and fairies. One night the girls are found outside the house in a harbour yard, cold and very scared. Twelve years later, Cat, now living in the US is forced to return to her childhood home which is now owned by El and her husband Ross. El is missing, presumed dead and Ross is wanting to move on with his life. Cat does not believe that El is dead and when she starts to received mysterious and sometimes threatening emails she is even more convinced that El is alive. The narrative is complex, claustrophobic and intense, as the reader you are never completely sure what is true and real and what is a lie and fantasy. The writing is so evocative and the tension is tangible. The analogies between the ‘real’ world and the ‘mirror’ world are so clever and bit by bit you begin to understand what happened to the girls and the way they coped; absolutely extraordinary. The characters are unreliable and fascinating; you are never sure that you are on safe ground with them. They are very well drawn both as children and adults and entirely unpredictable. The supporting characters are equally intriguing. This is quite simply an amazing read. It is complex, layered, challenging and ultimately so rewarding. The author has an astonishing imagination. I doubt I will read anything quite like it for some time to come. Thank you so much to NetGalley and Harper Collins for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
It is a widely accepted belief that young children live a large part of their life in a fantasy world. But where do they get the ideas and information that underpin that world? And what happens if fantasy and reality merge? These are deep questions and this excellent and hugely enjoyable book explores them. El and Cat are mirror twins, brought up in secret in a large house by their mother and grandfather. They have no access to the outside world and no real concept of what it is like. Mother provides all of their education and reads to them constantly, largely from classic ranging from Treasure Island to the Shawshank Redemption. They are 12 when they escape, seeking a pirate ship to take them to their father; that’s when fantasy hits reality and where the book begins. Twenty years later, Cat who has been estranged from her sister for many years and living in Venice Beach, Florida, returns to Leith, near Edinburgh, because El and her yacht, Redemption, have disappeared, presumed sunk in the North Sea. El is married to Ross, the “boy next door” and the only person outside the family to have entered the girl’s world. Bizarrely, they have bought and now live in the old house. Even stranger, when Cat arrives she discovers that the interior has been decorated and refurnished to resemble how it was when they were trapped in it. Everything except the old back door which led to Mirrorland, a covered over bricked in alleyway. When she enters there, it is exactly as it was when they left, areas designated as the bar, the boardwalk, and most importantly the sailing ship “Satisfaction” where all their adventures unfolded. Through Cat’s memories we learn about their life for the first twelve years, where Mirrorland and the house are populated by a range of imaginary characters; The Witch, the Tooth Fairy, Bluebeard, Blackbeard, Annie, Mouse, the Clowns. And Ross, who can enter Mirrorland through a window in the garden shed that is too high for the girls to reach, and who becomes an integral part of Mirrorland. These recollections overlap with the investigation into El’s disappearance, stimulated by mysterious messages from El. But is Cat an unreliable witness, has she ever really escaped from Mirrorland? This is a very complex novel, much more than just a psychological mystery or standard thriller. The pace is relentless and yet it all runs so smoothly that the reader can feel immersed in this unique world and feel part of the life that Cat led and is now living. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the final acts and resolutions are as complex and surprising as the world of Mirrorland itself. I would like to thank NetGalley, the publishers and the author for providing me with a draft proof copy for the purpose of this review.
Catriona and Ellice are ‘mirror twins’ who spend an isolated childhood in an imposing Edinburgh stone house with their mother and grandfather. Fed on tales of Bluebeard and Blackbeard, the girls need to create a safe place through their own complex made-up world - a subterranean Mirrorland - where they can board an imaginary ship accompanied by invented characters and sail away to enjoy swashbuckling adventures. Descriptions of their early lives are superbly evoked. The author, Carole Johnstone, gives us snapshots through a distorted lens – we feel discombobulated as if in a fairground mirror maze. We feel that awful things are happening but we don’t know what, other than that in the Prologue the twins are found at night down at the harbour in blood-soaked jumpers when ‘their second life began.’ It is this second, or perhaps third, life that we are immersed in from the outset of the novel. Cat, now thirty-one, lives in the States whilst El has married Ross, a former neighbour, and moved back into their childhood home. El is missing – a sailing accident is the most likely explanation – and Cat is reluctantly drawn back to Edinburgh staying, once more, in their strange childhood home. She tells the police, she in convinced that El is not dead, believing that she would somehow know if she were. This seems more and more likely when she begins to receive emails directing her to revisit parts of their fantasy world and seek out clues clearly left for her. Johnstone’s story is not only an incredibly carefully structured mystery and a mesmerising tribute to the power of storytelling; it is also a superb exploration of childhood trauma and the ways in which it can influence the future. This is a beautifully written, fascinating and moving read, all the more impressive for being this author’s first novel. My thanks to HarperCollins UK, Harper Fiction for a copy of this novel in exchange for a fair review.
Wow, just wow. I usually find when a story is really dark and twisted, I do not enjoy being absorbed in this world and I have to admit that at 20% I was thinking it's too much for me as it's pretty intense. I am glad I persevered as the story developed, you understood the story more and the revelations continue to come to you. It was such a gripping story with a very well thought out story arc throughout. I HAD to finish this last night at 1am. Brilliant story and I am still thinking about it now! Thank you to NetGalley & publisher for the opportunity to read this advanced copy in exchange for a honest review.
Mirrorland is a book that if there is such a thing as fairy tales for adult this one of them. Breath-taking and heart-breaking it's a book you will devour and not stop thinking about.
Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone HarperCollins UK Thank you to Netgalley and HarperCollins UK, for this review copy. This is my unbiased review of the author's work and style. If you want plot lines and spoilers, please see the publisher's blurb and other reviewers' reports. I selected this book originally because I misread the title as “Mirror Lands” a book about the Russian and Chinese Border lands. However, out of curtesy I felt I should read t and supply a review. Well, I will be the first to admit that psychological thrillers – especially those with horror aspects are not normally my cup of tea. So, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself initially drawn both to the characters and the plot. In stock thrillers if there is a mystery then one is fed by the author clues some useful some red herrings and the reader can amuse themselves by trying to second guess the author. With a good author you fail with a weak author you succeed. I personally am happier to fail. In Mirrorland I failed, in that I got the ending wrong but primarily because I missed the clues. Ms Johnstone’s writing is impeccable and her style evocative of M R James. I cannot say I enjoyed the plot because I didn’t. Maybe if it had been shorter, I would have liked it as a Christmas Eve story, but at this length I just felt the content of the story too worrying and not a little frightening. All that said one cannot take away from Ms Johnstone her skill. So, my personal verdict is four stars, but for those for whom this genre holds an appeal it warrants five stars.
Where do I start? OMG this book had my brain in a whirl with its gripping twisting plot!! In 1998 Ellice and Catriona are twins, as children they created their own world called Mirrorland. They both leave home as they want to join a pirate ship. The twins are now grown up but have not been close for many years. El has disappeared whilst out on her boat. She is married to childhood friend Ross and they live in her childhood home in Scotland. Cat who is now living in California returns to see what has happened to her twin. She is adamant that El is still alive. I loved how the story goes back to when the twins were young, living in their fantasy world where they were safe and happy. This is such a gripping thriller, I felt like my brain was in a maze as we came to the ending, with me desperately trying to find the light of day!! I love a book where you have to concentrate or you will miss a vital clue!! Thank you to Netgalley for my copy in exchange for a review.
A deeply dark and disturbing psychological thriller, which was unputdownable. The characters were unexpected and intriguing, as were their varying roles within the storyline. A well crafted novel that was imaginative enough to feel at times like a fantasy, though holding to it's theme. An ending you would never expect, along with shocking revelations. Absolutely fantastic, well worth reading
A sad story of twins, shocking abuse & murder a fantasy land created by the girls, helped them in their “first” life. Their “second” life El is missing presumed dead, yet Cat is certain she is alive. A treasure hunt, to unlock the clues and secrets from both the present & the past. This book stayed in my thoughts for days, i really enjoyed the fantasy side of the story, it was well written & the descriptions were sublime. If you want a thriller that is a little different, give this a go.
Where can I start but Wow!!! Mirrorland is one of those stories that long after you've finished reading you know will stay with you. I really can't stop thinking about it. Mirrorland is the telling of twin sister's Ellice and Catriona and their vivid imagination when family life got tough. After both siblings start adult lives, Catriona is forced back to her childhood home and now must relive her darkest days in order to set the truth free. Immensely captivating, dark and heart-wrenching, Mirrorland will have you on the edge of your seat guessing the outcome until you've finished this twist and turn read.
Mirrorland is a captivatingly dark, original story about identical twin and the fantasy world they inhabited as children. The result is a brilliant blend of fantasy blurred with reality mixed into a psychological thriller. I’ve truly read nothing like it before. The writing is remarkable and the characters are very well-developed. There are plenty of twists that will keep readers guessing. Highly recommended!
If Brothers Grimm and Ann Radcliffe lived in modern times and wrote a psychological thriller together, they would have written Mirrorland. Two identical twin sisters, El and Cat, share a secret that instead of pulling them closer, pushed them so far that they can't even live in the same country together. When El disappears, Cat finds herself returning to her previous life, where she had a sister. The biggest surprise for Cat is that all is not exactly as it seems, or not exactly as she remembers. Did she forget what happened or was it simply her way of glossing over things she would rather not think about? The only thing that still prevails from her past is her intense and eerie love for her sister's husband. When I started reading Mirrorland, right from the start I was pulled straight into the lives of El and Cat, which were filled with fairytales and pirate adventures. After all, being daughters of a pirate king is not a small thing. But why has he never come back for them? They had to live their strange lives with their mother and grandfather in a gothic Edinburgh house where their only play companions were characters from all the books they read with their mother and all the stories she told them. This is a beautifully written book that takes you into Mirrorland filled with mystery and the oppressing dread of what the human mind can conjure to make people persevere with their lives. We never can truly say what's happening behind the closed doors of our neighbours' houses. Mirrorland is a story of survival and of the power of the sisterly love and how far sisters would go to protect each other. If you love books with unreliable narrators that take you on a tour that ends up being a distorted image of reality, and which would make you gasp with disbelief at the very end, then Mirrorland is for you. Mirrorland is dark, twisted, intoxicating, and compulsive. Follow the breadcrumbs of the mystery to see if you can, in fact, see what the ending brings. It would be a perfect read for fans of Sarah Pinborough, Gillian Flynn, and Sarah Waters. Thank you HarperCollins for my ARC via NetGalley.
Loved this creepy tale about twin sisters. Beautifully written, with believable characters. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me an early look at this.
Oooh what a great thriller! Mirror twins Ellice and Catriona have vivid imaginations, brought up by their grandfather and mother, they often escape to "Mirrorland", an imaginary land in the basement of their house. Roll forward to when they are adults, Cat returns from her new home in the US because El has disappeared... the story becomes more and more gripping with each piece of memory that Cat manages to slot back in place, and nothing is quite what it originally looked like. This is a completely original thriller with a cast of gripping characters; it got me a couple of times with really good twists which I just did not see coming. What a read!
This is a fantastic psychological thriller! Johnstone excels at leading the reader through an increasingly twisty plot and lots of clever reveals, from the perspective of a confused and traumatised narrator. I appreciated how Johnstone wove past and present, stark reality and a seductively comforting fantasy world, to explain El's childhood and coping mechanisms. I could picture both the physical bricks and mortar of the family home, and the fictional elements and stories the twins imagined. Creepy, compelling and clever. A very satisfying read!
Mirrorland is a twisted Alice in Wonderland story where fantasy and reality blend together so well that you don’t know what to believe. Illusion, lies and truth are woven together in this dark mystery by Carole Johnstone. Ellice MacAuley has disappeared while sailing in the Firth of Forth. Her sister Catriona, her mirror twin, has returned from Los Angeles for the first time in twelve years. She is staying in the house where she and El grew up, now owned by El and her husband Ross. The twins were raised by their mother and grandfather in a house full of make believe. There was no TV, little radio and many stories about princesses and pirates. The rooms are all named for the specific play and games that take place there: The Clown Cafe, The Princess Tower, The Kakadu Jungle and more. The girls’ favorite place is the secret Mirrorland that only they know about. Cat refuses to believe that El is dead. Her desperate search to discover what has happened to her sister lead her into a confusing imaginary world where her memories of her childhood are mixed with animal characters, monsters, fear and violence. Before she can discover what happened to her sister, she will have to confront her past. It is hard to believe that this vivid, atmospheric thriller, part psychological and part dark fairy tale is a first novel. The world of imagination, imagination that covers pain, that she has created is addicting. It pulls you in from the first pages. 5 stars. Thank you yo NetGalley, Harper Collins UK and Carole Johnstone for this ARC.
This is a superb book and should not be missed I would put it on a par with (or perhaps better than) Gone Girl and Girl On A Train. You are never certain how it will finish although for once I actually guessed correctly. Before I finished the book I looked at the NetGalley Readers Views and was pleased to see that the two newest reviews both made the same point as I was planning to make - you might find the book hard going in the first chapters primarily, for me, because of a detailed long chapter about Mirrorland. However on reflection the reader does need to know about how El and Cat saw Mirrorland as you need to be able to work out what is fantasy in the childrens' minds and what is actually real. So please don't give up. The book gets better and better and you do gradually find out about what really happened when they were children. So, I think this will be one of the books of 2021. I hope Netflix comes along for a series as I'm sure it will make a fantastic mini series
It took a while to get into this book and understand what was going on, but it was very unusual and worth persevering. I enjoyed the book much more in the later stages, when it was clear what was what and I could sit back and enjoy the story. I pretty much guessed the denouement about Mouse, although I had reached the conclusion in a different way - had the mothers also been identical twins? Anyway, I thought it was not obvious as twists go, therefore good in my book. I like my novels twisty and unusual, so this book suited me fine, and I recommend it to you.
Initially I found this book difficult to get into but when I did, it grabbed me by the throat. It was filled with twists and turns and it was hard to know what was real and what was made up fantasy by the twins. An excellent read. I’m so glad I persevered.
I picked up this book because it was set in Scotland but I continued to read it because it was so much more. When you step into Mirrorland it feels different from the very beginning immediately setting the scene for a mysterious psychological thriller and you get the feeling you are in for something special. The storytelling is amazing, the twins imaginary childhood World is so real, the atmosphere is intense, dark and slightly gothic. This story is really well paced, all the characters are well written, but you never know quite enough about them so you are on edge and never quite trust anyone. The writing creates this edgy atmosphere so you always have this sense that you are missing something until the story gradually reveals itself but not right until the end! I can’t sing the praises of this book enough. This is my book of 2021 so far and definitely one to look out for if you love psychological thrillers.
When Cat’s twin sister El disappears, she heads from her new home in America back to Scotland where she grew up. There she stays in the house from her childhood, where El and her husband still live. Then someone begins to send clues for Cat to solve and somehow they all lead back to the past.. This was so much better than I imagined! The premise immediately drew me in with the concept of the make believe Mirrorland. I loved the mystery, the clues, the digging for the truth, and how nothing was as it seemed. The house had taken on a life of its own, with its own personality and secrets. I didn’t really know what was going on at the beginning. Honestly, I didn’t know what was going for at least the first half of the book, but slowly the truth emerged. It was hard to know what was imagined and what was real, but I actually liked that (and I’m pretty sure that was the whole point) and it made the truth even more shocking. The writing was special and by far my favourite thing about this book. It was lyrical with so many beautiful descriptions, without it bogging the plot down. It fitted together and moved the story along in such a stunning way. The ending was perfect - honestly there wasn’t one thing I’d change. There was twist after twist and I went through a rollercoaster of emotions. The truth was darker than I could have ever imagined, but it was woven together so perfectly. I finished the book and knew immediately it would stay with me for a long time.
Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone is a dark, clever, twisting thriller that really grabs you and doesn't let go! The disappearance of Ellice (El), identical twin sister to Catriona (Cat), provides the backdrop for this twisty story which is rooted in childhood imagination and perception. Cat returns from Los Angeles to Edinburgh when she learns of her sister's disappearance and is immediately transported back to her mystical childhood fantasyland. Meanwhile, El's husband Ross is distraught as the search for El's boat fails to provide any clarification as to what has happened to her. Cat's childhood recollections reveal more concerns as police become suspicious of everyone. I was totally surprised by Mirrorland; it is much darker and mysterious below the surface.
Absolutely brilliant story, full of twists. I wasn’t sure about it to start with but became drawn in to the fairytale, sometimes frightening plot. If someone had described it to me I would probably not have read it - I would have missed a fantastic story!
Wow! This is a very dark and twisted read. I have to admit probably until about a quarter of the way through I wondered what the heck I was reading.... but then it started making some sense. There is an element of fantasy which isn’t my usual genre but then it’s also very psychological and a thriller which made me gripped and I just had to finish it quickly!. I would give this 4.5🌟
What a debut novel from Carole. It’s a fascinating, dark, unputdownable read. You start of thinking what on earth is this book about, but soon become completely engrossed in it. Twins El and Cat have a strange upbringing involving a fantasy world brought about by their mother. Life takes plenty of twists and turns for them with a totally unexpected ending.