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Mirrorland A thrilling work of psychological suspense 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 NoWesteryk 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 NoWesteryk Road is still full of shadowy, hidden corners, and at every turn Cat finds herself stumbling on longheld 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 twisty, dark, and brilliantly crafted thriller about love and betrayal, redemption and revenge, Mirrorland is a propulsive, pageturning debut about the power of imagination and the price of freedom

10 thoughts on “Mirrorland

  1. says:

    Catriona returns to Edinburgh following her twin sister Ellice's death, and upon reentering their childhood home, the unsettling past of Cat and El's upbringing begins to come flooding back to her, practically chasing her in mysterious emails and cards left on the doorstep. Everything Cat tried to forget holds the answer to why her sister is dead. Mirrorland feels a bit like a roller coaster ride, as it starts off with a climb, but once you reach the peak, you're thrust into a whirlwind of bewilderment. As pieces of Cat's past unfolded in her psyche, the breath was knocked out of me again and again. Not just a novel, Mirrorland is an experience that can't be easily summarized-- emotionally turbulent, chaotically charged, and downright astonishing.

  2. says:

    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.

  3. says:

    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.


  4. says:

    This amazing debut novel opens with 11 year old twin girls cold, scared and alone late at night at a Scottish harbor in Edinburgh. All they will say are their first names and that they are waiting for a pirate ship. Twenty years later one of the twins, Catriona, is back in Scotland, for the first time in over 10 years. She is there because her twin, Ellice, has disappeared at sea and is presumed dead. Cat is sure that she would know if El is dead, even though they had not spoken in 10 years. She has come back to see what games El is now playing, because El was good at playing games and getting what she wanted. Cat’s search for answers takes her back to their childhood and the fantasy world of pirates, witches and clowns that she and El created in a hidden part of their house which they called Mirrorland. Memories which Cat thought were all part of their fantasy world suddenly become part of her current reality and in order to find out what happened to El she must finally face the reality of their tragic childhood, and separate out fiction from the facts she has refused to remember. Mirrorland is a modern day gothic where every page brings a new surprise. A surprise which will have you wondering what is real and what isn’t in this unusual, scary and surprisingly atmospheric novel which touches on horrible abuse, a mother’s desperate efforts to save her children, love, betrayal and above all else the bonds between sisters – especially twins.

  5. says:

    Perhaps everyone's childhood memories are the same: part truth, part fantasy. But this house and our mother and her stories turned our imagination into a melting pot, a forge. A cauldron. And, I'm beginning to realize, I can trust nothing that came out of it.

    Cat and El are twins. Mirror twins according to their mother, identical in all ways and able to sense even the slightest pain in one another. Their childhood was spent in No. 36 Westeryk Road, creating Mirrorland, a fantasy world populated by pirates, outlaws, clowns, and prisoners. But when something happens and they leave Mirrorland behind forever. After a twelve year estrangement, Cat returns to Edinburgh where her sister has disappeared, presumed dead, and finds herself on a treasure hunt through Mirrorland once again -- only this time the prize is the fate of her sister.

    Carole Johnstone's MIRRORLAND is a thriller for anyone who spent their childhood dreaming up other worlds. She takes the presumed innocence of a fantasy and shows just how deadly it can be when others shape your imagination. The chills and misdirections are perfectly timed. Don't spend too long in Mirrorland or you may find reality altered when you return.

    Thanks to Scribner for providing this book for review!

    Content Warnings for discuss of past suicide attempts and suicidal ideation, child abuse

  6. says:

    Was lucky enough to get an advanced copy of this.

    Amazingly suspenseful. I'd say this is for fans of Gone Girl and Room with a bit of Stranger Things tossed into the mix. I loved the unreliable narrator and the fact that there's a major twist toward the end that I never saw coming.

    I loved it!

  7. says:

    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.

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