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With the startling twists of Gone Girl and the haunting emotional power of Room, Mirrorland is a thrilling work of psychological suspense about twin sisters, the man they both love, and the dark childhood they can’t leave behind. Cat lives in Los Angeles, far away from 36 Westeryk Road, the imposing gothic house in Edinburgh where she and her estranged twin sister, El, grew With the startling twists of Gone Girl and the haunting emotional power of Room, Mirrorland is a thrilling work of psychological suspense about twin sisters, the man they both love, and the dark childhood they can’t leave behind. Cat lives in Los Angeles, far away from 36 Westeryk Road, the imposing gothic house in Edinburgh where she and her estranged twin sister, El, 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 36 Westeryk Road, which has scarcely changed in twenty years. The grand old house is still full of shadowy 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 in almost every room: 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, page-turning debut about the power of imagination and the price of freedom.


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With the startling twists of Gone Girl and the haunting emotional power of Room, Mirrorland is a thrilling work of psychological suspense about twin sisters, the man they both love, and the dark childhood they can’t leave behind. Cat lives in Los Angeles, far away from 36 Westeryk Road, the imposing gothic house in Edinburgh where she and her estranged twin sister, El, grew With the startling twists of Gone Girl and the haunting emotional power of Room, Mirrorland is a thrilling work of psychological suspense about twin sisters, the man they both love, and the dark childhood they can’t leave behind. Cat lives in Los Angeles, far away from 36 Westeryk Road, the imposing gothic house in Edinburgh where she and her estranged twin sister, El, 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 36 Westeryk Road, which has scarcely changed in twenty years. The grand old house is still full of shadowy 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 in almost every room: 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, page-turning debut about the power of imagination and the price of freedom.

30 review for Mirrorland

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    My brain is on fire! My dear overcooked grey cells burned to ashes! Another stimulating, challenging thriller is out to surprise you with complicated twists! We have an unreliable narrator on the board to tell us a creepy, delusional, blood freezing, complex story with a gothic, bleak, claustrophobic house theme dances with blended magical realism, psychological thriller, mystery genres! Twin girls El and Cat created a world called Mirrorland till that world begins to threat them swallow whole. My brain is on fire! My dear overcooked grey cells burned to ashes! Another stimulating, challenging thriller is out to surprise you with complicated twists! We have an unreliable narrator on the board to tell us a creepy, delusional, blood freezing, complex story with a gothic, bleak, claustrophobic house theme dances with blended magical realism, psychological thriller, mystery genres! Twin girls El and Cat created a world called Mirrorland till that world begins to threat them swallow whole. Once upon a time they walked hand in hand, scared, cold, crying in a Scottish harbor in Edinburgh to catch the latest pirate ship. At the very same night, their lives have completely changed. We move forward in time : After 12 years later Cat who already moved on her life in California, is forced to return back to her childhood house. The place has been bought by El and her husband Ross because El always gets what she wants including taking Ross from Cat with her theatrical acts like suicide attempt threats. The sisters stopped talking for 10 years and now El is missing, presumed dead which Cat doesn’t believe from the beginning. She knows her sister more than anyone and she has to find where she’s hiding and what she’s trying to do by dragging her back to the house of horrors. As soon as Cat returns back to the childhood house, her torturous memories start to reappear on her mind. But the things she tells seem distorted, delusional. She gets threat messages from someone and as she digs out more she completely believes her sister might be alive! We cannot decide if her words are accurate or she’s lying because her blurry mind barely differentiate between reality and dream. She finally realizes by coming back to the place where every nightmare in her life has started is the most dangerous choice she’d made and now she may pay it with her life. Definitely complex, brain cell frying, mind numbing, layered, dark, smart, exhausting story made you feel like getting lost in labyrinths of your darkest fears with no accurate way out! It was not an easy read: smoke clouds still rise above my head! You gotta pay attention to the details and the deep meanings behind the magical stories of twins. I cut some points because some parts and depictions in the book got me tired. My mind worked overtime to put the puzzle pieces at the right places. I’m rounding up 3.5 stars to 4 clownish, house of horror four stars! Wow! My grey cells still hurt but I’m so sure after reading this book they won’t get rusted as Mr. Poirot advised. Special thanks to NetGalley and Scribner for sharing this digital copy of this original book in exchange my honest opinions.

  2. 5 out of 5

    daph pink ♡

    I have a few regrets 1.Reading 2.This 3.Fucking 4.Book 5.When 6.I 7.Should 8.Be 9.Sleeping Sleep is important, when you are sleep deprived for a week.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Maureen

    Identical twins, Ellice (El) and Catriona (Cat) live with their Mum and Grandpa in a large gloomy old house in Edinburgh. The house has lots of nooks and crannies, lots of places to hide, and that’s very fortunate, because when the twins retreat into their make believe fantastical world of Mirrorland, a place of swashbuckling pirates and mean and scary witches, they need to hide on lots of occasions. When the twins reach adulthood, they have a massive falling out, and have no contact with each ot Identical twins, Ellice (El) and Catriona (Cat) live with their Mum and Grandpa in a large gloomy old house in Edinburgh. The house has lots of nooks and crannies, lots of places to hide, and that’s very fortunate, because when the twins retreat into their make believe fantastical world of Mirrorland, a place of swashbuckling pirates and mean and scary witches, they need to hide on lots of occasions. When the twins reach adulthood, they have a massive falling out, and have no contact with each other whatsoever. Cat moves away from her twin and begins a new life in California. Then, some 12 years later, comes the shocking news that El is missing. Cat doesn’t think for a minute that El has really disappeared, she believes it’s another one of El’s games, and so she returns to her childhood home - to Mirrorland, something she never intended to do, because she knows all of El’s hiding places, and she’s determined to find her. It’s difficult for me to review this one, because there were parts of it that had me really gripped, really wanting to discover what happened next, but at the same time, as the storyline veered off into the realms of fantasy (something which I don’t enjoy) I found myself skimming through. However, it has to be said, it did become clear as the story progressed, that there was a very good reason for the magical fantasy, and it then made complete sense. It was certainly unique, but not really my thing. * I was invited to read Mirrorland by the publisher and have given an honest unbiased review in exchange*

  4. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    DNF @ 16% - no rating. This book sounded right up my ally but I was so very wrong. I have been reading this for about four hours now and I'm only at 16%. This is way too fantastical for me and I had no idea that pirates and pirate lingo would be such a big factor in the story. I have zero interest in pirates and, as it turns out, Mirrorland either. C'est la vie! Thank you to NetGalley and Scribner for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for my review. DNF @ 16% - no rating. This book sounded right up my ally but I was so very wrong. I have been reading this for about four hours now and I'm only at 16%. This is way too fantastical for me and I had no idea that pirates and pirate lingo would be such a big factor in the story. I have zero interest in pirates and, as it turns out, Mirrorland either. C'est la vie! Thank you to NetGalley and Scribner for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for my review.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ceecee

    4-5 stars 36 Westeryk Road, Edinburgh contains Mirrorland, the escapist world of mirror twins Ellice (El) and Catriona (Cat) Morgan. Now in their thirties El leads Cat on a treasure hunt to unlock their shocking reality and discover truths. It took me a while to get into this but its draws you into the original and creative plot and ultimately it becomes very difficult to put down. It is a very atmospheric tale, super creepy in places and the author fuses the childhood fantasy Mirrorland brillia 4-5 stars 36 Westeryk Road, Edinburgh contains Mirrorland, the escapist world of mirror twins Ellice (El) and Catriona (Cat) Morgan. Now in their thirties El leads Cat on a treasure hunt to unlock their shocking reality and discover truths. It took me a while to get into this but its draws you into the original and creative plot and ultimately it becomes very difficult to put down. It is a very atmospheric tale, super creepy in places and the author fuses the childhood fantasy Mirrorland brilliantly into the nightmare of the present day. At times it feels so claustrophobic that it’s hard to breathe and as the truth emerges it’s shock after shock and some of it is brutal. The final twist is excellent and ends the book positively. It’s a novel about the root causes of their childhood fantasies and its impact on adulthood, family sacrifice, deception and extremely clever subterfuge and becoming free from the iron shackles of the past. It’s grippingly tense and harsh in places but overall is a corker of a psychological thriller. Take a deep breath and dive in. With thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins, Harper Fiction for the much appreciated arc for an honest review.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kaceey

    Twin sisters Cat and El have been estranged for years. Living in separate parts of the world trying to put their past behind them. Until El goes missing…. Cat quickly returns home to Edinburgh from California. She refuses to believe that something has happened to El. But the investigation of her disappearance is underway. Could El’s husband be responsible? A man they both have a history with. I admittedly had a hard time connecting with this book. There were parts I enjoyed such as the actual inves Twin sisters Cat and El have been estranged for years. Living in separate parts of the world trying to put their past behind them. Until El goes missing…. Cat quickly returns home to Edinburgh from California. She refuses to believe that something has happened to El. But the investigation of her disappearance is underway. Could El’s husband be responsible? A man they both have a history with. I admittedly had a hard time connecting with this book. There were parts I enjoyed such as the actual investigation. But when the storyline switched to their playhouse of Mirrorland I found myself lost and confused. The book included a bit too much emphasis on magical realism such that I had trouble following it. There are a lot of mixed reviews for this book. I hope your connection with the characters and storyline will be stronger than mine. A buddy read with Susanne. Posted to: https://books-are-a-girls-best-friend... Thank you to NetGalley and Scribner for an ARC to read and review.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    Going back to sleep ... DEBUT SKILLS SHINE! Review to follow this weekend- Gorgeous atmospheric experiences.... literary- psychological thriller .... clever, beautifully written.... breathtaking descriptions... REVIEW: This is beautifully written debut.....(combo/ infusion mix of genres) > stunning blend of literary fiction and mystery thriller. I loved the book. There are a lot of descriptions— (which often can be too much), but I found the descriptions in this book exhilarating, birthed from a w Going back to sleep ... DEBUT SKILLS SHINE! Review to follow this weekend- Gorgeous atmospheric experiences.... literary- psychological thriller .... clever, beautifully written.... breathtaking descriptions... REVIEW: This is beautifully written debut.....(combo/ infusion mix of genres) > stunning blend of literary fiction and mystery thriller. I loved the book. There are a lot of descriptions— (which often can be too much), but I found the descriptions in this book exhilarating, birthed from a wonderful imagination. I WAS THERE...TRANSPORTED....into the different rooms > spooky, eerie, dark....with stories of clowns, witches, and pirates. What’s sooooo unusual for me is I’m just not a witchie-clownie-pirate type of girl. BUT THIS WAS DIFFERENT....( very different)... balanced with suspense...love...betrayal...revenge...and redemption. Carole Johnstone is a writer to keep an eye on....her talent is spellbinding noticeable. An author I might compare her to is Daphne Du Maurier. A LITTLE ABOUT THE STORY....[ but NO SPOILERS] “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”. Cat returns home to the grand old house - after El had mysteriously disappeared after going out on a sailboat. I loved the contrast descriptions between modern city condo living in sunny Southern California, (Venice Beach), and the grand old house, in Edinburg...with it’s landscape, windy swaying of the green orchard surrounding the mansion... and the old house (a main character), itself. At the beginning of the story, we get a photo of the layout of the house in the UK... On the ground floor we see the kitchen, the pantry, the drawing room, The wash house, the exercise yard, and the orchard and grounds that surround the house. On the rear end of the house, there is a Princess Tower, The Clown Café, The Kakadu Jungle, The Donkshop, The Landing, and a bathroom. THE OLD HOUSE .....LIVED LIKE A MAIN CHARACTER FOR ME The story begins with the prologue September 5, 1998 An enchanting tidbit that tickled my pleasure bone right away was that El, was the nickname for Ellice. I loved it. With my name being Elyse... I think I would have enjoyed friends calling me El sometimes ( god knows my name was dissected in so many other ways growing up) Ok... back to our story... I was hooked immediately! Teeth chattering, bodies shivering, choppy waters, a loud splash, chilly winds, a sweater, a smell of blood?, a smile.... El and Cat smiled at each other. They said they would never leave each other. “We will not leave each other”. It was the day that their second life began. I WAS CURIOUS....and/but....as I said before ‘because’ the descriptions were so interesting themselves ...( very creative storytelling)... I never felt rushed to need to know the final result to ‘the mystery’.... but OMG....I’m sure no reader saw that ending coming. I enjoyed being surprised....but it was the ‘entire’ crafting-storytelling I enjoyed. So..... After a long flight from Los Angeles to the UK ( lots of wine for Cat while on a seven hour layover)... Cat is back home. She is greeted by Ross, El’s husband. Ross was in London - when El took the sailboat out alone. Ross, a clinical psychologist, was at a psychopharmacology conference. By the time he got back home, El had already been missing for at least five hours. It was definitely odd - with mixed emotions—Cat being back in her old house - filled with childhood memories. “The Clown Cafe was solely El’s invention: a richly imagined roadside American diner, with walls of red and white and glass tubes of pink neon. An Old record player was a jukebox playing fifties Elvis”. As kids, Cat and El played in the Clown Cafe. It was their their favorite hiding places in the world—they played dress-up, made up stories, ate fried donuts. As Cat looks around the house all these years later— many memories come strolling back. Their grandpa was deaf enough that’s the entire house new every single football result by the end of a Saturday afternoon. He listen on a radio There was never a TV in the house only their grandpa‘s radio. “Mum had many rules, but that we should read, that we could learn everything we ever needed to know in life from Books, was absolute and never wavered”. Ross thinks El is dead. The search team thinks she’s dead. Cat knows she’s not. Cat knew El ( her twin) in ways nobody did. Cat would have felt it — if she was dead.....(?) A few facts... ....El hasn’t accessed either of her bank accounts since she disappeared. ....she hasn’t contacted anyone or turned on her phone. ....Ross found El’s passport exactly where it always is. ....El, Ellice MacAuley, was first reported missing by the Royal Forth Yacht Club’s Bomann at approximately 6:30 PM on April 3rd. There are more few ‘questionable’ facts: ....El loved both her sister, Cat, and her husband, Ross. ....Neither shame or grief can erase Cat’s memory of El’s cleverness, her sometimes casual cruelty. Cat doesn’t trust El. ....many more ‘questionable’ to untangle. There is an investigation. We meet Detective Inspector Rafiq ( Kate), and detective sergeant, Logan. We contemplate Cat’s thoughts about El, often wondering if she is reliable character or not. This is a very intelligent mystery thriller....very atmospheric & visual.... One, I think would make for a great movie. A couple of excerpts: “The house was more than old memories. It was like a museum, a mausoleum. Or a moment of catastrophe, preserved like a body trapped under pumice and ash”. It’s where Cat, El, Mum, and Grandpa lived. “I’m smiling as I look around at the wonky beige wood units. At the old boiler, it’s silver flue plugged into a hidden chimney that was forever trapping birds. Are used to listen to them, scratching and flapping, that sounds muffled as if they were underwater. Beneath the old hanging clothes rack, there’s a new Smeg fridge-freezer, an incongruent sapphire blue. I am beyond the towering Georgian window, with its many small glass panels framed with hardwood glazing bars, the old apple trees sit and sway”. Bedrooms 12345 Every room in the house apart from the kitchen had a bell pull: a brass-and-ceramic lever connected to long copper wires hidden inside the walls. Whenever El or Cat wanted to guess which room’s bell pull had been pulled by the other, they would stand inside the entrance hall instead. “A rudimentary telepathy test that convinced no one because each bell also had a distinctive peal”. They had their, “There’s a monster in this house”, games. Towards the beginning of the book there was a quote by Alexandre Dumas from his book, “The Count of Monte Cristo” ( on my list to read this year).... “When you compare the sorrows of real life to the pleasures of the imaginary one, you will never want to live again, only dream forever”. 5 very enjoyable stars Thank you Scriber, Netgalley, and the talented Carole Johnstone

  8. 4 out of 5

    Susanne Strong

    Review published on blog: https://books-are-a-girls-best-friend... Smoke and Mirrors, Fiction and Fantasy. “Mirrorland'' is a world created by Identical twins, El and Cat as children growing up in a Manse in Scotland. It's a marvelous, outlandish, and wondrous world where El and Cat could hide, safe from harm, even though it was inhabited by clowns, witches, and pirates. Call me crazy, but I personally would have been hiding from Mirrorland, not the other way around! Once best friends, the two sis Review published on blog: https://books-are-a-girls-best-friend... Smoke and Mirrors, Fiction and Fantasy. “Mirrorland'' is a world created by Identical twins, El and Cat as children growing up in a Manse in Scotland. It's a marvelous, outlandish, and wondrous world where El and Cat could hide, safe from harm, even though it was inhabited by clowns, witches, and pirates. Call me crazy, but I personally would have been hiding from Mirrorland, not the other way around! Once best friends, the two sisters had a falling out as adults with El staying in Edinburgh and Cat moving to California. Now however it’s too late to make amends. El has gone missing and Cat must return to Scotland and the one place she swore she’d never return to try and find her: “Mirrorland.” Cat’s apprehension about returning and being home is palpable and had me wondering if Mirrorland would swallow her whole. Admittedly, her stepping foot into a room called “The Clown Cafe” was enough to give this gal pause. As the police investigation into El’s disappearance ensues, it becomes clear that all is not what it seems. Suspenseful, tense, and truly fantastical - there is a whole lot going on in this dark, atmospheric tale. While parts of this story involving El’s disappearance were truly gripping, some of the fantastical elements were a bit too much for me. The ending however was stupendous! A buddy read with Kaceey that gave us much to discuss. Thank you to Mimi Chan and the team at Goodreads, as well as NetGalley and Scribner for the arc. Published on Goodreads and Twitter.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

    This book opens with 12 year-old identical twins El and Cat being found on the Granton docks on the Forth of Firth near Edinburgh, asking for a pirate ship to join. What lead up to this point and what happened next makes for a suspenseful tale. El and Cat grew up in a house in Edinburgh with their mother and grandfather. Together they created an imaginary world called Mirrorland full of clowns, jungles, princesses, cowboys, pirate ships and even a prison block. Their mother fed their fantasies b This book opens with 12 year-old identical twins El and Cat being found on the Granton docks on the Forth of Firth near Edinburgh, asking for a pirate ship to join. What lead up to this point and what happened next makes for a suspenseful tale. El and Cat grew up in a house in Edinburgh with their mother and grandfather. Together they created an imaginary world called Mirrorland full of clowns, jungles, princesses, cowboys, pirate ships and even a prison block. Their mother fed their fantasies by reading adventure tales to them and telling them they must learn to be brave and clever. As young adults, Cat and El had a falling out over a boy called Ross who they both loved and Cat moves away to LA where she establishes a successful career as a freelance journalist. El would later marry Ross and move into their childhood home. She and Cat loose touch until 10 years later Ross phones Cat to tell her El went out on her boat and hasn't returned. Disbelieving her twin could have died without her feeling something, El flies back to Edinburgh and back to their childhood home. For me, I found the first half of this book to be very slow reading. There was so much information about El and Cat's imaginary world and it really wasn't gripping me. However, about half way through, all that changed and bang! I was hooked into what was under the surface of the twins' childhood fantasies and also what came afterwards. The two make for a twisted tale provided you can make it through the first half of the book, and the ending may just make it worthwhile. Overall 3.5★ With many thanks to Harper Collins UK and Netgalley for a copy to read

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jayme

    HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY TO A THRILLER YOU DON'T WANT TO MISS!! “Because in Mirrorland, anything—everything—is possible. In Mirrorland, you are safe. Fear is never to be feared, horror is only make-believe, and escape is inside every bone and vein and breath and brick. And all it asks for in return is one thing. Only ever one thing. That you have to be brave.” El and Cat are estranged twin sisters, one living in America and the other in Scotland. When El mysteriously disappears, Cat travels to Scotla HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY TO A THRILLER YOU DON'T WANT TO MISS!! “Because in Mirrorland, anything—everything—is possible. In Mirrorland, you are safe. Fear is never to be feared, horror is only make-believe, and escape is inside every bone and vein and breath and brick. And all it asks for in return is one thing. Only ever one thing. That you have to be brave.” El and Cat are estranged twin sisters, one living in America and the other in Scotland. When El mysteriously disappears, Cat travels to Scotland to help with the investigation. After returning to her childhood home where El and her husband Ross still live, Cat finds clues that lead her on a treasure hunt. She must remember the past and Mirrorland in order to figure out what happened to her sister. I absolutely love everything about this debut psychological thriller. It is best to go in blind and lose yourself in the magic of Mirrorland. You will meet a mouse, pirates, cowboys, Indians, clowns, the tooth fairy and a witch. While I have to admit I was confused for a good third of the book, the reveal was everything and more. Just when you think the twists can’t get any better, they do...and then again and again...and again! It’s so surprising that you want to go back and reread the book with new eyes to see what you missed. There are very few books that I want to reread, and this is one of them! While it can be compared to Gone Girl, it also reminds me a lot of The Girl in the Mirror. I cannot recommend this book enough. It’s clever, disturbing, fantastical, mysterious and very surprising. Please experience Mirrorland’s unique magic. You won’t be disappointed! Thank you to NetGalley and Scribner publishing for the ARC of Mirrorland in exchange for an honest review. 5/5 stars

  11. 4 out of 5

    Mandy White (mandylovestoread)

    DNF.. way too out there for me. It is hurting my head and I am not even sure what is happening. Too many other books that I could be enjoying.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    What a unique mystery thriller. My friend, Kim @itsallaboutthethrill, read it shortly before me, and she gave me a heads-up about the world building and to be patient. She was absolutely right. Early on in the book, the author introduces us to Mirrorland. It’s a world made of the imagination of twin sisters, Cat and El, to escape their childhood realities. The creativity that went into this was outstanding. I grew up in coastal North Carolina, in an island area near where Blackbeard’s ship, Quee What a unique mystery thriller. My friend, Kim @itsallaboutthethrill, read it shortly before me, and she gave me a heads-up about the world building and to be patient. She was absolutely right. Early on in the book, the author introduces us to Mirrorland. It’s a world made of the imagination of twin sisters, Cat and El, to escape their childhood realities. The creativity that went into this was outstanding. I grew up in coastal North Carolina, in an island area near where Blackbeard’s ship, Queen Anne’s Revenge, was discovered after it sank there. The legend of Blackbeard in the area is strong, as a result, and so it was interesting to have Blackbeard and Bluebeard included in this storyline. Once the world is built, things begin to happen because El, as an adult, is missing. Cat travels home to Scotland to search for her alongside El’s husband. Will they find her alive? If you can suspend disbelief a little and are looking for a unique and creative thriller with twists you’d never expect, this is it. I can’t wait to see what’s next for this Carole Johnstone! I received a gifted copy. Many of my reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com and instagram: www.instagram.com/tarheelreader

  13. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn Walsh

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I wish to thank NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read an advanced copy of Mirrorland in return for my honest review. When I read its description, I thought this would be a book I would enjoy. I regret to say that was not the case. I plodded through until the end. I think the concept was good, and the twists were surprising and unforeseen. It was a mixture of several genres. It was a mystery, a crime story, a psychological thriller, crossed with a large fantasy element. For m I wish to thank NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read an advanced copy of Mirrorland in return for my honest review. When I read its description, I thought this would be a book I would enjoy. I regret to say that was not the case. I plodded through until the end. I think the concept was good, and the twists were surprising and unforeseen. It was a mixture of several genres. It was a mystery, a crime story, a psychological thriller, crossed with a large fantasy element. For me, the fantasy part did not seem well integrated with the rest of the plot and seemed convoluted and disjointed. I can understand why it was part of the story but found the fantasy detracted from the rest of the plot's flow. I found the Mirrorland (fantasy) sections overwritten and overblown. The secret rooms were given overly detailed descriptions, but I had difficulty visualizing them even with the accompanying map. The fault may be entirely my own. I regret that I struggled to maintain my interest, although I was baffled about how this would all play out by the end. Twin sisters, Cat and El, spent their childhood years in a gloomy old house in Edinburgh. It was a house with many rooms where they carried out their games and fantasies and a secret room under the pantry they named Mirrorland. Mirrorland was a place to hide and escape a miserable childhood. Much magical thinking permeated their games, including pirates, witches, clowns, and the tooth fairy. The twins had a close bond, but after they escaped the Gothic home, they had a huge falling out and have had no contact for years. Cat moved away to California and never wanted to return. El married a clinical psychologist, Ross and in the meantime, they bought and restored the old home to its former appearance. Cat reluctantly returns to Edinburgh and the childhood home when El is reported missing while sailing during bad weather. El's distraught husband, Ross, believes El is dead, but Cat feels strongly that her twin is alive. As an identical twin, she would be aware if El had died. The police are involved, and a body is eventually recovered. Cat identifies the body and realizes she was wrong and that Cat is, in fact, dead. This is confirmed by DNA analysis. Cat narrates the story. She is an unreliable witness with repressed memories. She starts getting messages and clues that she thinks may have been written by El, but she is suspicious of everyone. This leads her back to explore the old rooms where once they played out their fantasies. Her narration shows anxiety, dread, and even verges on hysteria. I felt the story was overwrought, over-written, and longer than necessary. While exploring the old rooms, some of her blocked memories start to return, but are these reliable? The police think El either committed suicide or was murdered, and Cat is determined to learn what really happened. Ross insists El would have never resorted to suicide, but who murdered her? The truth about their grim childhood is eventually revealed, and why the twins fled from the house. The final twists were so over-the-top and incredible that I believe many readers will be surprised and enjoy the shocking conclusion. I feel the author has a good future in writing twisty crime stories with stunning endings but needs to tone it down a bit for my liking. Prospective readers should not be deterred by my misgivings but should refer to the many positive reviews for this book. It just wasn't for me.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Faith

    Yet another book where the author tries to outdo herself with improbable twists and turns. I got bored with all the talk of childhood fantasies and skipped to the end. This plot is ridiculous. I don’t think that I would try this author again. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Alan Cotterell

    Thank you to NetGalley and Scribner for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review. I read the synopsis and on Netgalley and was instantly hooked and have been eagerly waiting to read this ever since. That was the fantasy. The reality is I have been trying really hard for almost 3 hours to get into this book, and failing miserably. Looks like I may be in the minority here, as many other reviewers are rating highly. I can’t do that as I DNF @ 18%, and struggle to award 1 star. Thank you to NetGalley and Scribner for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review. I read the synopsis and on Netgalley and was instantly hooked and have been eagerly waiting to read this ever since. That was the fantasy. The reality is I have been trying really hard for almost 3 hours to get into this book, and failing miserably. Looks like I may be in the minority here, as many other reviewers are rating highly. I can’t do that as I DNF @ 18%, and struggle to award 1 star. Next…

  16. 4 out of 5

    Pauline

    Cat travels from America to her childhood home in Scotland when her identical twin sister goes missing. She believes that her sister is not missing but attention seeking and is trying to find out where she is hiding. This is a complicated story and there is a lot of fantasy from the twins childhood. A slow moving story that failed to hold my interest. Thank you to NetGalley and HarperCollins for my e-copy in exchange for an honest review.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    Where do I start? OMG this book had my brain in a whirl with its gripping twisting plot!! In 1998 Ellice and Catriona are twins, as children they created their own world called Mirrorland. They both leave home as they want to join a pirate ship. The twins are now grown up but have not been close for many years. El has disappeared whilst out on her boat. She is married to childhood friend Ross and they live in her childhood home in Scotland. Cat who is now living in California returns to see what h Where do I start? OMG this book had my brain in a whirl with its gripping twisting plot!! In 1998 Ellice and Catriona are twins, as children they created their own world called Mirrorland. They both leave home as they want to join a pirate ship. The twins are now grown up but have not been close for many years. El has disappeared whilst out on her boat. She is married to childhood friend Ross and they live in her childhood home in Scotland. Cat who is now living in California returns to see what has happened to her twin. She is adamant that El is still alive. I loved how the story goes back to when the twins were young, living in their fantasy world where they were safe and happy. This is such a gripping thriller, I felt like my brain was in a maze as we came to the ending, with me desperately trying to find the light of day!! I love a book where you have to concentrate or you will miss a vital clue!! Thank you to Netgalley for my copy in exchange for a review.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Dannii Elle

    Actual rating 2.5/5 stars. Cat and El are twins who were once as close in body and soul as they were in looks. But that was a long time ago, and Cat moved far away for twelve long years without once coming back. Now, however, she has been forced to. El has disappeared and the police are involved in hunting for her body. Cat thinks El is still out there somewhere, still playing games with the sister she dominated over, after all this time. I remained sucked into this thriller throughout, especially Actual rating 2.5/5 stars. Cat and El are twins who were once as close in body and soul as they were in looks. But that was a long time ago, and Cat moved far away for twelve long years without once coming back. Now, however, she has been forced to. El has disappeared and the police are involved in hunting for her body. Cat thinks El is still out there somewhere, still playing games with the sister she dominated over, after all this time. I remained sucked into this thriller throughout, especially as the concept of Mirrorland was introduced. This was the world of make-believe that the twins created to help them cope with the trauma of their home-lives. For me, the execution of this other world remained a little confusing and I might have perhaps preferred the focus to remain on the real-world, even if the chronological order continued to skip from childhood to present-day. I guessed at one of the major reveals but remained invested and intrigued with the events unfolding, regardless of this. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the author, Carole Jonhstone, and the publisher, The Borough Press, for this opportunity.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    4 stars Did you hear that sound? That was my mind exploding. This book is FUBAR; I am still debating what rating to give as I am writing this review. This book is dark and weird and twisted. So many times through the first half of the book I kept thinking to myself “what in the world am I reading here???” and I can’t tell you how many times I considered DNF’ing. However, once you get through +/- 40%, things start to come together, the crazy stories start to make some sense and especially once you 4 stars Did you hear that sound? That was my mind exploding. This book is FUBAR; I am still debating what rating to give as I am writing this review. This book is dark and weird and twisted. So many times through the first half of the book I kept thinking to myself “what in the world am I reading here???” and I can’t tell you how many times I considered DNF’ing. However, once you get through +/- 40%, things start to come together, the crazy stories start to make some sense and especially once you get to Part II, all the puzzle pieces begin falling into place. Honestly, I don’t even know how Johnstone kept it all straight. Here are my final thoughts: 1). I am really glad that I stuck with it because Mirrorland ended up being one of the most dark and twisted books I have ever read. 2). If you decide to give this a whirl, PAY ATTENTION. You think the pirate stories and the clown café are just weird children’s imagination and I am telling you they mean more to the story than you think. 3). Power through Part I; Part II pays off in dividends. 4). There is mysticism and fantasy layered in; just roll with it and try not to think too much about reality. And finally, 5). Do not, I repeat, do not read any spoilers or anything other than the synopsis before diving into this book. Go into it as blindly as possible. After writing this review and thinking on it a bit, I am going to give Mirrorland 4 solid stars. The darkness and creativity of this story deserves it. Thank you to Simon and Schuster for my copy of this book via Edelweiss.

  20. 5 out of 5

    L.A.

    Mirrorland is a creepy thriller portrayed through the eyes of children and their imagination and a sad escape from a dark childhood full of physical and emotional abuse. When Cat and her twin sister El wanted to feel safe, they created from their imagination a place called Mirrorland located behind the cabinets consisting of different rooms with pirates, witches and even scary clowns. Sometimes it was confusing as it allowed you to float between the walls of fantasy and the real world. As young Mirrorland is a creepy thriller portrayed through the eyes of children and their imagination and a sad escape from a dark childhood full of physical and emotional abuse. When Cat and her twin sister El wanted to feel safe, they created from their imagination a place called Mirrorland located behind the cabinets consisting of different rooms with pirates, witches and even scary clowns. Sometimes it was confusing as it allowed you to float between the walls of fantasy and the real world. As young adults, El captures the heart of Ross and marries him, although he had also been seeing Cat. The two have a falling out, so Cat moves away to California never looking back, until her sister El is missing from an apparent boating accident. Cat returns to the dark scary house she grew up in to inquire about her sister's disappearance, which she feels is just an act, as El was known to do before. While the search is on, Cat immerses herself into a shady scavenger hunt, and she thinks it is courteous of El. While receiving threatening messages asking her to leave, she finds a rekindling comfort in Ross. A deep dark story of deception and betrayal with nothing as it seems. Look for redemption and revenge to play out in this psychological thriller, immersing yourself into some crazy technique of writing. Good job, Carol Johnstone. Thank you, NetGalley, for this ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sheila

    4 stars--I really liked it. Content warnings for domestic abuse and child abuse. (Seriously.) When this started, I was a bit confused about where the characters were and what exactly was going on. This is intentional, though, and eventually all became clear. This is a dark book of family secrets and jealousy (a very dark book). Despite some uneven pacing, I found myself devouring this story, needing to know what happened next. It's a feverish read, with a satisfying ending. I received this review 4 stars--I really liked it. Content warnings for domestic abuse and child abuse. (Seriously.) When this started, I was a bit confused about where the characters were and what exactly was going on. This is intentional, though, and eventually all became clear. This is a dark book of family secrets and jealousy (a very dark book). Despite some uneven pacing, I found myself devouring this story, needing to know what happened next. It's a feverish read, with a satisfying ending. I received this review copy from the publisher on NetGalley. Thanks for the opportunity to read and review; I appreciate it!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Anni

    I am not a fan of the magical realism genre, which this novel seems to resemble, so I really struggled to engage with the storyline. However, the writing is excellently atmospheric, imbuing the novel with that pervasive sense of other-worldliness to be found in dreams - or is this a nightmare? Either way, it is a very intriguing first novel.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Bandit

    Mirrorland. An imaginary place with surprisingly real dimensions. When Catriona and Ellice were kids, it was their secret world, the place they were safe and happy. And memory being the tricky imperfect thing that it is…to a great extent it remains that in their minds, or at least for one of them. The mirror twins, Cat and El, grew up to be undistinguishable in appearances and quite different in most other ways. So much so that familial ties weren’t enough to stay together and so for 12 years, s Mirrorland. An imaginary place with surprisingly real dimensions. When Catriona and Ellice were kids, it was their secret world, the place they were safe and happy. And memory being the tricky imperfect thing that it is…to a great extent it remains that in their minds, or at least for one of them. The mirror twins, Cat and El, grew up to be undistinguishable in appearances and quite different in most other ways. So much so that familial ties weren’t enough to stay together and so for 12 years, since they were 19, the twins have been living separate lives on different continents, El stayed in gloomy Scotland, Cat went to sunny California. No contact, just memories and even those are wildly different from person to person. And then El disappears on her boat, presumed dead, a catalyst potent enough for Cat’s return, possibly even strong enough for return of some of those tucked away and misinterpreted by child’s mind memories. This entire time El has been married to the love of their (both twins) life and that marriage may not have been all that perfect, according to people who knew El. Plus isn’t it always the spouse in these sorts of stories? So there’s all sorts of suspense, mysterious notes and emails and a passionate love triangle reignited once again. Oh my, as George Takei would say. So there you have it, another of these ubiquitous female thrillers. What makes it different is the approach here, this is first and foremost a story of a profound psychological trauma and the way it echoes throughout someone’s life. Or at least, that’s what it was for me. Because if you choose to read it as a dark psychological drama with crime elements it may be more satisfying than just having another fairly predictable he said/she said thriller. The trauma here is very significant indeed, as the story progresses, the Mirrorland unravels secret after secret, each darker and more disturbing than the next. We’re talking extreme psychological and physical abuse, so be warned readers, this isn’t light in any way. This book being a debut, there are some things the author does nicer than others, the first person suspense is taut and terrific (and, smartly so, uninterrupted by alternating perspectives as so many genre entries do) and this also contributes to a more literary novel sort of thing going on. The Mirrorland is somewhat overwritten (yes, even despite its crucial significance to the story) and so is the do we trust him/do we not romance angle. The plot twist at the end is fairly obvious, though nice for those who invest the time in the story and emotions in its characters. The fact that two young children can go through such a great deal of abuse and emerge relatively functional seems to stretch credulity, but then again kids can be surprisingly resilient. So all in all a very decent entry into the ever expanding genre, darker than most, definitely well above average in quality. Not revolutionary in any way, but pretty good, especially for a debut. The book features a superlative opening quote from The Count of Monte Cristo about the power of imagination and the danger of superlative quotes from superior works is that the book sort of has that standard to live up to. Not a great set up for oneself, but the author’s ambition is to be admired. It is fascinating though from a purely psychological perspective how the mind works and adapts in extreme circumstances, the self defense mechanisms, the walls and armor build for specific purposes and their staying power. For those aspects alone this was a worthy read. But genre fans will also find plenty to enjoy within these pages.Pretty good with notable efforts at originality.. Thanks Netgalley. This and more at https://advancetheplot.weebly.com/

  24. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea | thrillerbookbabe

    “We will not leave each other, never so long as we live”. Twins Cat and El are the inventors and rulers of Mirrorland, the magical realm in the cupboard full of clowns, pirates, witches, and anything else their minds can come up with. Being raised on stories about Neverland, Narnia, and The Black Pearl, Cat and El turned their house into many magical realms, and built a full sized ship to sail the imaginary seas. Their childhood was full of adventure, until one day they were orphaned and found wa “We will not leave each other, never so long as we live”. Twins Cat and El are the inventors and rulers of Mirrorland, the magical realm in the cupboard full of clowns, pirates, witches, and anything else their minds can come up with. Being raised on stories about Neverland, Narnia, and The Black Pearl, Cat and El turned their house into many magical realms, and built a full sized ship to sail the imaginary seas. Their childhood was full of adventure, until one day they were orphaned and found wandering the streets. Thank you so much to Scribner and Carole Johnstone for my ARC of this book. The very premise of Mirrorland is intriguing and not a story you see often. A dream world where anything can happen is blurred with the reality of Cat’s childhood. This book utilizes one of my favorite types of characters, the unreliable narrator. While it does take a bit to get into the story, once you understand the writing pattern, it sucks you into a complex and chilling story that has layer upon layer of depth and deception. What really made the book for me was the underlying terror that was always present in the background. Even if the mood was light, the reader sensed foreboding and knew something awful was just about to happen. Each letter Cat got led the reader deeper into the present mystery, but also deeper into Cat’s past. Her relationship with El was dynamic and complex, even if told by flashback. At the root of this story is the value of family and the way imagination plays a part in our lives. I enjoyed the flawed character of Cat, as well as the minor characters she meets along the way. More mysterious magical realism than thriller, this was a new genre to me and I have to say I enjoyed it. The way Carole Johnstone used the unreliability of childhood memory as a key factor in this story was well done and the ending to the story was especially satisfying. 4-stars! Review first available on mysteryandsuspense.com

  25. 4 out of 5

    The Coycaterpillar Reads

    Mirrorland…first that cover told me about all the blows it would deliver. It’s dark, it’s intimidating and the abyss you’re staring at? Yeah, it’s going to pull you all the way under. Not going to lie, I always wished I had a sister, but a twin sister? Shouldn’t that just come with a health warning, plain and simple? Your sense of identity is shrouded around being part of a pair. Mothers of twins the world over tend to dress them the same, do their hair the same and treat them the same. How to y Mirrorland…first that cover told me about all the blows it would deliver. It’s dark, it’s intimidating and the abyss you’re staring at? Yeah, it’s going to pull you all the way under. Not going to lie, I always wished I had a sister, but a twin sister? Shouldn’t that just come with a health warning, plain and simple? Your sense of identity is shrouded around being part of a pair. Mothers of twins the world over tend to dress them the same, do their hair the same and treat them the same. How to you break free when your treated as half of a whole? The first chapter of Mirrorland is like walking through an eerie fog. Nothing is clear, nothing is recognisable, but everything feels more threatening. You know something has gone spectacularly wrong but just what is a mystery. Two sisters. The dark depths of the harbour. Blood. if you could have heard my heart and my breathing, you’d assume that I needed a doctor pronto! Whispered promises between those that are bonded through birth. Whatever happened you could tell that those they trusted now left them feeling like it was just five letter word. Mirrorland has you turning those pages like it was the end of the world, well I suppose for two little girls it is. My brain was itching for the answers, needing to know more, feel more and it delivered with a sharp shock that was reverberated through-out my being. The story instantly grabbed my attention, and the details and writing has me wound tighter than a spring! The klaxons were going off in my head, the red alert was engaged. From an opening chapter that certainly had me engaging my seatbelt to my favourite trope of the unreliable narrator, I knew this was going to be a hell of a ride! The themes investigated was cleverly executed; the obvious shockwaves through-out the community, past traumas and childhood experiences just added to the authenticity of the novel. When El goes missing after a planned boat ride to Anstruther (my favourite place in Fife) from Edinburgh, we get to experience a chain of events told through her twin’s eyes, Cat. She doesn’t for one second believe that she has drowned, even though the coastguard and the authorities are saying it would be impossible for to still be alive in the conditions. If she had died though, she would have felt it, right? Mirrorland delves into family despair. A twin’s anguish and a husband’s pain. Kat’s stubborn resolve was intense and raw. Carole Johnstone, you made me feel in this one and that is just a testament to how incredibly strong the narrative was. The girls have been through a whole lot together and it made me connect to the plot and the characterisation more. Okay, so not all her decisions are good ones but she’s only human after all. We all deal with pain and anger in different ways. The book was everything I hoped for and more. Mirrorland was a masterful work of art in pacing and suspension. Johnstone has lit a fuse and the impending explosion will rock more than your psyche. Deliciously dark. Thanks to netgalley and Harpercollins for an opportunity to review

  26. 5 out of 5

    Elle

    *Thanks to Scribner & Netgalley for an advance copy!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Virginie

    Atmospheric and mysterious The premise of this book was really interesting, but in the end I thought it was a tedious read... This one just wasn't for me, but I still enjoyed some parts. I would be ready to try the next books of this author and see if they are a better fit for me. Many thanks to Netgalley and Simon & Schuster Canada for the ARC! Publication date: April 20th, 2021 Atmospheric and mysterious The premise of this book was really interesting, but in the end I thought it was a tedious read... This one just wasn't for me, but I still enjoyed some parts. I would be ready to try the next books of this author and see if they are a better fit for me. Many thanks to Netgalley and Simon & Schuster Canada for the ARC! Publication date: April 20th, 2021

  28. 4 out of 5

    Miranda Reads

    So excited about this Book Haul Video ! YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Snapchat @miranda_reads So excited about this Book Haul Video ! YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Snapchat @miranda_reads

  29. 5 out of 5

    Erin Clemence

    Special thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free, electronic ARC of this novel received in exchange for an honest review. Expected publication date: April 20, 2021 Cat has tried for years to escape her past. After growing up in Edinburgh, she moved across the world to California nearly twelve years ago, and has had no contact with her estranged twin sister, El, since. When Cat receives word that El has disappeared at sea, she is forced to return to Scotland in hopes of finding her s Special thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free, electronic ARC of this novel received in exchange for an honest review. Expected publication date: April 20, 2021 Cat has tried for years to escape her past. After growing up in Edinburgh, she moved across the world to California nearly twelve years ago, and has had no contact with her estranged twin sister, El, since. When Cat receives word that El has disappeared at sea, she is forced to return to Scotland in hopes of finding her sister alive. But once in Scotland, she is flooded with horrible memories from her past, and only Ross, her long-time neighbour and one-time love, is there to help her sort through the wreckage. But Cat is convinced El isn’t dead, she feels it in her bones. And as the police start to give up on the investigation, Cat starts to receive messages that can only have come from El. Cat knows her sister is trying to send her a message, but why is she being so cryptic? Who is she hiding from? “Mirrorland” is the debut novel from Scottish author Carole Johnstone, previously known for her award-winning short stories. Not only does “mirror” depict the genetic relationship between El and Cat, but it also speaks to their imaginary “Mirrorland”, where both twins would hide out from their abusive grandfather. The house itself is magical, with secret compartments easily turned into sailing ships, and it has its own “Narnia” vibe. I, also, am a huge fan of stories where Scotland is the main setting, so this pulled me in right away. Initially, it is difficult to determine what is real and what is imaginary. The story is told from Cat’s perspective, and goes back and forth between time periods, when Cat is an adult who has returned to find her sister, and when her and her sister are children playing in their imaginary land. This parallel of course, is obviously intentional, and as the story goes on, it is obvious why Johnstone chose to write in such a way. There are enough twists and turns in this novel to keep the ending completely unpredictable, albeit a tad unbelievable. Every character that is introduced has some secret they are keeping, and, like Cat, it is difficult to tell who to trust and who to believe. The ending itself was extremely satisfying, and, without giving away spoilers, it played out just as I hoped it would. “Mirrorland” is well written, full of magic and imagination, well still managing to portray a heartbreakingly accurate depiction of childhood abuse and neglect. A powerful debut novel, I look forward to Johnstone’s future works, as she clearly has the creative chops to be successful in the long-term.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Christina McDonald

    Anyone who reads this should know it's heavily laced with magical realism. I do enjoy a little magical realism, it was to the extent that I really struggled with the first 50% of the storyline. It did pick up and I'm glad I finished, as I really enjoyed the ending. While it was too fantastical for me, those that enjoy this type of book will find a story imbued with a large dose of atmosphere, fairy tales, and family drama. At the root of the story is a woman returning home when her sister goes mi Anyone who reads this should know it's heavily laced with magical realism. I do enjoy a little magical realism, it was to the extent that I really struggled with the first 50% of the storyline. It did pick up and I'm glad I finished, as I really enjoyed the ending. While it was too fantastical for me, those that enjoy this type of book will find a story imbued with a large dose of atmosphere, fairy tales, and family drama. At the root of the story is a woman returning home when her sister goes missing. While there, she begins to realize that her sister's husband, a man she had a relationship with when she was younger, is perhaps not the man she thought he was. She soon begins to question everything as the past and present converge and real life and fantasy become more confusing, and long-suppressed memories from the fantastical Mirrorland begin to emerge.

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