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 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.
Every once in a while you know you have read something special, something original, something so overwhelmingly beautiful and sad that you feel like your heart is breaking. Mirrorland is that something. Dark and unsettling, the more you read, the more you cannot imagine what the next chapter holds. It’s like holding your breath underwater, afraid to surface, yet more afraid to remain.
I’m not going to say it’s for fans of… or for those who like…. because this book is like no other. It twists and surprises and then twists again, till you no longer know who is telling the truth or even who is who.
Catriona and Ellice lived out their childhood in a world of their own invention. A world called Mirrorland. Populated with pirates, clowns, adventurers, Belle, Mouse and The Witch, the only other child allowed into their world was Ross. That is, until the girls are found wandering, bloody and wretched at the dock, waiting for a pirate ship to take them away.
Many years later El has gone missing from her sailboat The Redemption and Cat still remembers nothing of that fateful night when they were both 12 years old. Having spent the rest of their childhood in care, El eventually marries Ross and Cat has gone to live in California. She hasn’t been home or spoken to El since the day she left. But now Cat is forced to come back. She is certain that El is still alive, because as mirror twins, she would know if El was dead. Except no-one believes her.
Once Cat is back in the old house where she and El lived with Mum and Grandpa (El and Ross bought it back), she is forced to face her worst fears and discover the truth. But is the truth really the truth and who is leaving cards on the doorstep and emailing her clues? Convinced it is El, Cat is drawn into a nightmare world where only returning to Mirrorland can save her.
To say this book is fantastic would not do it justice. It’s just brilliant and amazing and every other adjective I can think of.
Many thanks to @annecater for inviting me to be part of #RandomThingsTours.
About the Author
Carole Johnstone’s award-winning short fiction has appeared in annual ‘Best of’ anthologies in the US and UK. Her debut novel, Mirrorland, will be published in April 2021 by Borough Press/HarperCollins in the UK and Commonwealth and by Scribner/Simon & Schuster in North America. She lives in Argyll and Bute, Scotland.
From Carol herself:
“When I sat down to write Mirrorland, I wanted to write a story that I would want to read. I wanted to write a psychological thriller with a Gothic heart, full of mystery and atmosphere, surprises and twists. I also really wanted to write about the crumbling, creepy, and very eccentric house in Leith, Edinburgh where my grandparents used to live.
“So many writers’ ideas come from asking the question What if? You start with what grabs you the most, things that have been cluttering up your mind for a long time – identical twins, a passion for secret histories, love triangles, revenge plots, and a crumbling, creepy old house with a locked door that goes nowhere, for example – and then you ask What if? What if something terrible happened to those twins when they were children? What if they fell in love with the same man when they were adults? What if the almost supernatural bond that they shared had slowly become so toxic that they could no longer be in each other’s lives? What if one sister then went missing? And what if that bond between them – all those terrible and forgotten secrets and lies – was the only thing that might save her? That might save them both?
“I hope so much that reading Mirrorland gives you even a fraction of the joy that writing it gave me.”