This is a spoiler-free review.
Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone
Published April 20th 2021 by Scribner.
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.
Click for Content Warnings:
domestic, sexual and child abuse, incest, murder, physical violence and psychological trauma
Thank you to The Write Reads Tours and the publisher, Scribner, for providing me with an e-ARC of this book via NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.
As a fan of mystery and horror, I was so excited to pick up Mirrorland. And between the gothic vibes, the unexpected twists, and the dark themes, I think any horror fan would be impressed with this novel!
I’m the type of person who, when reading a mystery/thriller, has to figure out the end before I get there. And usually I’m pretty good at it! But Mirrorland really threw me for a loop. My jaw dropped at the first big reveal, and I thought that had to be it, but I was so, so wrong. This book has so many twists – every one more unexpected than the last – there’s absolutely no way to predict what’s going to happen next!
At the start of the story it can definitely be hard to tell what’s reality and what’s in Cat’s mind, which took a while to get accustomed to, but once I had, I loved. Much of the plot takes place in Cat’s memories, where imagination and reality run amok, and the writing does a really good job of drawing you into that mindset. Right away I could tell there was more going on beneath the surface of Cat’s recollections, but I couldn’t put my figure on what. And it was almost impossible to put this book down until I finally understood why.
This book is definitely complex, complicated and even a little convoluted, but I think it really works here. Cat herself doesn’t full understand what’s happening to her – what has happened – and as the reader you get to uncover the mystery of Mirrorland and the horrors that inhabit it along with Cat.
There’s a dark undercurrent throughout this story, and when that gets explained everything really clicks. This book is super creepy, and very atmospheric, and I think an easy favorite for fans of gothic horror and psychological thrillers alike.
Mirrorland is the perfect book the type of person who always guesses the ending… because this one you really won’t see coming. 🤯
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.
Have you read any good new Mystery/Thrillers?
Let me know!