Today, I’m bringing you another blog tour post for the ever wonderful The Write Reads! If you’re a blogger and have been looking for a blog tour company you might want to try, I can’t recommend Dave highly enough. Beyond the fact that he’s awesome, the last three tours I’ve done have all been books I’ve absolutely adored!
But I’m getting ahead of myself, aren’t I? I haven’t talked about the book I’ll be reviewing for this tour post! Today, I’m talking about a dark and frightening thriller that had me up until 3 in the morning because I could not put it down. The fact that it’s a debut novel absolutely blows my mind! Come with me as I dive into the world of Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone!
Well, first let me start by thanking Dave @ The Write Reads, the publisher, Scribner, and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my participation with this tour and an honest review. And extra special thanks has to go out for the beautiful finished hardback Scribner sent my way! It is, as always, very much appreciated.
Okay! Now to gush about this book!
“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.”
- Title: Mirrorland
- Author: Carole Johnstone
- Publisher: Scribner
- Publication date: April 20th, 2021
- Genre: Thriller/Mystery
- Age group: Adult
- Content/Trigger Warnings: For a full list of potential content and trigger warnings, check out this book’s page on BookTriggerWarnings.com
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.
You know that feeling when you pick up a book and, within the first few pages, you know you’re doing nothing else for the rest of the day but reading? When a book grabs your imagination so fiercely that you can’t imagine setting it down before you’ve read the last page? Mirrorland did that to me!
This is the story of Cat and her long estranged identical twin sister, El. Cat and El had a bizarre childhood, but the thing that made it less bizarre was the magical world they created in their family home: Mirrorland. They always had Mirrorland, with is magical and slightly threatening denizens, and they always had each other. Children grow up though and, sometimes, grow apart. After a particularly bad falling-out, Cat hasn’t seen or spoken to her twin for the last twelve years. Then she gets a frantic phone call from El’s husband telling her that her twin has mysteriously vanished. Now Cat must return to her childhood home, and Mirrorland, to try and unravel what exactly happened to her sister.
It’s been a hot minute since I’ve read a thriller that so completely pulled me into it’s world! This book was a marvel, from the unsettling tone that permeates the entire story, to the way the whole, twisted story of not only the past, but the present is revealed. It had me on the edge of my seat the entire time and I loved ever second of it! I do want to warn folks to please check trigger warnings on this one, though. There are a lot of dark and uncomfortable topics that are explored, not least of all physical abuse, so I don’t want someone who might be sensitive to those to go into this one without knowing what’s up. I think the author does of good job of weaving these darker topics into the story without it feeling like they’re solely there for the shock value, though. But definitely be warned!
My favorite aspect of this book has to be the look at the relationship between Cat and her twin, El. It’s not a perfect relationship. In fact, it is rather messed up, but it’s a fascinating look at the sibling bond. The flashbacks to their time as children, their imagines of Mirrorland, honestly made me think of when I was a kid and had fantasy worlds I made up with my brother. Those worlds were our places to really be ourselves and be kids and you can definitely get that feeling when you read about Cat and El in Mirrorland, though their imagined world was much darker than ours. I dunno, I just thought that the author captured that sibling relationship so well and I loved it!
I also thought she did an incredible job with pacing in this novel. The twists and turns were expertly piloted and kept me guessing from jump! Did I guess some things before they happened? Yes. Did I still really enjoy the execution? Absolutely! It’s been awhile since a book had the ability to keep me up until 3 in the morning, and this book accomplished that because I had to know what was going to happen next! This was plotted so well and I loved going along for the ride.
Final thoughts: It’s been awhile since I’ve been so captivated by a thriller! This book delivers all the things I love in this genre: a perfectly paced plot, compelling and flawed characters, and an emotional punch that caught me off-guard. Definitely check trigger warnings for this one before going in, though, because this story gets dark. And, though the execution is incredible, you may seem some of the twists coming. Overall, though, this was a fantastic story that had me in it’s clutches from page on until I finished the epilogue. If you’re a fan of thrillers that feature family drama, lots of dark secrets, and loads of mystery, I think you’ll enjoy Mirrorland!