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#TheWriteReads #UltimateBlogTour #BookReview: Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone

My dear bookish friends,

What do you do when you start loving books outside of your usual preferred reading genre? Books you thought you wouldn’t like at all? Do you fall into an existential crisis? Or do you embrace your new-found bookish love and add even more books to your ever-growing TBR (after all, a few more won’t hurt, right?)? Well, I have done the latter (my TBR is no longer a stack, or a shelf. It’s a volcano about to erupt!), and have started reading more and more thrillers lately. I used to think I wouldn’t like them, but oh, was I wrong!! This tour is another reason why you should always be open-minded and ready to read outside your comfort zone. Big thanks to Dave from TheWriteReads for another amazing tour book I was allowed to read, and also to Scribner Books and the author for my ecopy in exchange for my honest review – which will follow right after the blurb!

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.

My Review

Twin girls, as close as they can be when they are little, but fast forward to when they are adults, and nothing is as it seems. Cat’s twin sister El has gone missing while out on the sea all alone on her sailboat. And she wasn’t there when her sister died. Except, Cat isn’t all that convinced that El is dead. Not like the media and everyone else around her is anyway.

When they were little, Cat and El created an imaginary world full of pirates, clown, witches, and even a prison. They called it Mirrorland, and through the stories their mother told them, Mirrorland grew bigger and bigger. They believed that in Mirrorland, anything was possible, and that they were safe (I would have run the opposite direction as a kid – or even now, lol, but to each their own I guess!).

We learn more about Mirrorland bit by bit. In any case, as children, Cat and El seemed inseparable. That changed as young adults, when both fell in love with the same guy, but only one of them got to marry him. When Cat left their hometown and their family home – the house that El and her husband now live in – she doesn’t hear from them for years. Not until the phone call that tells Cat of El’s disappearance…

There was a palpable tension right from the start when Cat was thinking of El. When she then had to return to her childhood home, that tension grew even more intense. Cat doesn’t seem to have such fond memories of that place after all, and when she is back there now, those shadows still seem to be hanging in every corner, clouding her vision just like they did when they were little.

While El’s husband is desperately awaiting news about her disappearance, Cat is more convinced than ever that El set this up. After all, the two used to play a similar game when they were little and they had to cover up a dark secret… Can it really be that El is still alive and playing tricks on them, or did she really die on her sailboat when she ventured out alone? The question remains though, why is the boat gone as well..?

I think the premise of this story is really intriguing, and I loved that it’s different from the usual happy twin sisters story. I do have to say the ending really surprised me in that regard, however, I obviously won’t spoiler anything there. Let’s just say that you will definitely be surprised, maybe even shocked, at all the revelations, twists, and turns that the story has in store.

Mirrorland is a story I was hooked to right from the start. I was intrigued and wanted to find out why Cat wasn’t taking the disappearance of her twin sister more seriously, why she wasn’t a sobbing and crying mess at the prospect that El might indeed be dead. What happened in their past that made Cat the was she is, and that made it possible for her to think that El might only be playing games?

While it takes a while for us to figure out what happened and why and for us to see the truth behind their childhood games, the author is a master storyteller and weaver of twisted secrets. As the dark secrets of Cat and El’s past slowly come to light, we also learn that some families go to great lenghts to save their loved ones…

I loved the writing, all the secrets lurking like shadows in all the corners of the house Cat returned to, their childhood secrets that were unraveled bit by bit, and the almost palpable darkness radiating from every page. I needed to know what happens next, so I kept turning the pages faster and faster.

If you are a fan of dark, twisty thrillers that hold you on the edge of your seat, books that keep you reading until well into the night, books that make you gasp at each dark secret that is revealed, then Mirrorland is the book for you!
4 stars from me!

Thank you all so much for reading,

xoxo

Noly

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.

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