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.
My thoughts: this is a sad, shocking and disturbing book about twin sisters, their secret fantasy world and the truth about their lives. Cat has blocked out her memories, and left Edinburgh far behind, but returns after her sister goes missing.
El and her husband Ross bought the home the twins grew up in and Cat finds little has changed, it still holds its horrors for her. But as the search for El’s body winds down and Cat’s relationship with Ross starts to turn dark; the memories of their shared childhood resurface.
I was gripped by this tale of fantasy worlds, nightmares and tragedy. Cat and El’s childhood is twisted and strange, raised in isolation by their mother and grandfather, they never left the grounds of their house until they were 12. Cat has repressed her memories but returning to the house starts to bring things back to the surface. Ross is a fascinating character, a childhood friend and neighbour, but is he El’s saviour or captor?
Mirrorland is the fantasy world the twins created, a world they escaped into, in a covered alleyway down the side of the house. There they felt safe and could escape the horrors of their home. Until they couldn’t. But who is sending Cat emails and directing her to pieces of El’s diaries and why?
As she starts to dig into what happened to her sister and recover her long buried memories, the house takes on an increasingly sinister aspect. Mirrorland is similarly full of darkness. A really interesting, dark read.
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.