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Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone

Writing.ie | Book Reviews | Crime/Thriller

By Swirl and Thread

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Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone is published with The Borough Press. It is a novel that Stephen King describes as ‘dark and devious…beautifully written and plotted with a watchmaker’s precision’ and Ruth Ware says is ‘a dark, twisty and richly atmospheric exploration of the power of imagination’.

Mirrorland is the extraordinary make-believe world of identical sisters, Cat and El. They grew up in a house where their imagination was central to their very existence, encouraged by a mother who was a little eccentric but also determined that her children would lead a better life than she did. Their elderly grandfather also lived with them, a gruff and angry man who demonstrated very little love for the girls. In the fantasy world El and Cat resided in, every room in the house was given a fictional name dedicated to an imagery place. When in each of these places the girls lived many different lives but it was the pirates’ life in Mirrorland that was their favourite.

As identical twins they were very close growing up and spent every waking moment in each other’s company. They knew when the other was sad, in pain, needing help. They always had each other. But an event caused a split in their relationship, with Cat eventually leaving Scotland and starting a new life in the US.

One day Cat receives news that El has gone missing at sea, no trace to be found. Cat has her reservations as El has been known to be an attention seeker all her life. Now married to Ross and living back in the old family home, El seemed content with her life. Cat has no option but to return to Edinburgh and attempt to figure out where El is. Ross is distraught at the prospect of a life without El. As the days pass and the sea rescue team start to pull back on their search, Cat is not convinced El is lost in the depths of the sea. She would know. She would feel it….wouldn’t she?

Mirrorland is a complex and layered psychological thriller that really does mess with your head as you attempt to differentiate fact from fiction. Carole Johnstone has taken some very dark and emotive themes weaving them into the story with a very impressive plotline that will confuse and confound. Cat is the narrator of this tale so, at times, the reality is very blurred, as she is not the most reliable of individuals. We very much have her view on how events pan out, with our version of El very much influenced by Cat’s perspective. As we travel down the virtual rabbit-hole with Cat we are exposed to shocking and disturbing scenes. Filtering this information requires focus but the conclusion is worth every second of the time spent in No. 36 Westeryk Road.

Layer upon layer is peeled back revealing the rot at the centre of Mirrorland, a disturbing, shocking and tightly woven tale. Carole Johnstone has written a brilliant novel that plays with the mind of the reader. It really is fabulously imaginative and a true example of a psychological thriller. An innovative and riveting read, Mirrorland is a book that will mess with your head and play havoc with your heart. Yes, I most certainly recommend!

(c) Swirl and Thread

Order your copy online here.

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