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
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 Maurie
I was trying to think what genre I would place Mirrorland but decided that it didn’t perhaps belong in any but stood on-its own. It had a mystery, was thrilling, was superbly suspenseful, psychologically deep, and incredibly dark. In fact so dark, that you had to take a breather at times to emerge into light and take stock at what you had read.
Johnstone’s characters were wonderfully complex. Cat our narrator, the twin returned from America convinced her twin, Els was not dead, enthralled by Els devastated husband Ross. Yet the answer to El’s disappearance lay not in the present but the past and the way in which Johnstone wove Cat’s childhood memories with present day was just brilliant.
The house, No 36 Westeryk Road was just as much a character as its human equivalents and Johnstone used it to dazzling effect. The Clown Room, Bluebeards room where none daredto breech, and then the hidden room, Mirrorland, a place of safety, of pirate ships, of adventures on the high seas.
Cat’s memories brought back to life as emails, letters arrived, as El’s diary pages formed a treasure hunt, a hunt reluctantly embarked upon, a suppressed reality of childhood that slowly emerged with horrifying clarity, tinged with fear and danger.
The relationship between Cat and Ross deepened, and Johnstone made us sway to and for as we tried to work out if Ross really was the distraught husband or a callous, controlling man with deep dark secrets of his own.
Johnstone’s narrative was tight, economical, the imagery utterly brilliant to the point my imagination ran wild. It wasn’t until the latter parts of the novel as Johnstone released Cat’s true memories that you were left utterly horrified, the truth almost too much to bear.
Yet out of the darkness you hoped there would be light, redemption, closure and a future for Cat that broken, damaged woman who had barely lived a life of truth and openness.
Some may not agree with the ending but for me it was perfectly fitting and I applaud Johnstone for engaging and enthralling me for a very tense and nerve wracking three days
I would like Scribner for a copy of Mirrorland to read and review and to Write Reads for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.
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.