Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone – Book review

Mirrorland is a story about twin sisters – identical mirror twins – who have a dark, damaged childhood, re-started their lives aged 12 and are in love with the same man.

If that isn’t enough to hook you in, it’s all set to a deliciously Gothic backdrop of 36 Westeryk Road in Scotland – a huge house with an imaginatively creative secret – Mirrorland. SURELY that is enough to make you add this book to your TBR list immediately?

Opening sentence: The sky was pink.

What is Mirrorland?

A tropical paradise instead of a snowy wonderland since Mirrorland was our Narnia.

Let me entice you even more… Ellice Macauley (married to Ross Macauley) and her twin Catriona Morgan grew up in Scotland. Raised by their mother and grandfather, they created a fantastical imaginary world in the many rooms of their house and named it Mirrorland:

So much of Mirrorland began as Mum’s invention before El and I turned it into something else, something more than alive.

Mirrorland is both a classic childhood invention and a device to escape the reality of their real life. Reading the flashback chapters about the girl’s imaginary world were a wonderful contrast to the current situation. That being that Ellice (known as El) is missing – her boat has disappeared and as bad weather and time ticks on, her survival looks less likely.

Catriona now lives in America, she left home 12 years prior and hasn’t spoken to her twin since. She returns back to her childhood home when her sister goes missing to help the police try and find her. This means she spends a lot of time with El’s seemingly heartbroken husband, Ross. Who Cat happens to also have feelings for.

Her smile. Tired and trembling but filled with so much joy. So much hate.

When she returns to Scotland, Cat starts to receive mysterious emails. Emails sending her on a treasure hunt to all her old haunts in Mirrorland. Emails she is convinced are from the missing, presumed dead, El. She thinks El has a grudge she is determined to see through…

Because we are not the same. Have never been the same. Because she is my exact opposite. My reflection. My Mirror Twin.

The writing style also made this a delight to read – every so often the tone took a dry, sarcastic turn, which I very much enjoyed. Plus, the descriptions of Mirrorland were really wonderful.

The Joy of the Unreliable Narrators

We only ever believe what we want – what we need – to believe.

Who to believe? What are the real reasons Cat moved to America and didn’t see her twin for 12 years? These are the questions that establish themselves early in the story and you are obsessed with turning the pages until you have the answers for them.

Even better, there are several characters who you just can’t trust. The plotting, the precision, the final gasp-out-loud plot reveal all come together to make this a fantastic read.

Perfect for fans of The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield or The Castaways by Lucy Clarke.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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