Mirrorland, Carole Johnstone – Book Review

A grand old Scottish house, estranged mirror twins, secrets and a glowing review quote from Stephen King meant this novel caught my eye straight away. My galley request actually didn’t get approved for around six months, by which point I’d almost forgotten about it and the hype had died down, but I’m so glad I got around to picking this up earlier this year.

Mirrorland was a taught, twisty thriller which kept me guessing and had more layers than appear on the surface. It weaves in elements of fantasy and horror, but at its heart this is a psychological thriller and complex drama about the relationship between two sisters.

Cat and El are mirror twins. They grew up together and were close as children, playing secret games and feeling the other’s pain as if it was their own. But now, they live thousands of miles apart. Cat moved away to LA after an argument in their late teens, and tried to put her sister out of her mind entirely. Until, El goes missing and she finds herself pulled back to the old house where she grew up, and has to confront some past demons.

This may sounds like the blurb of a thriller you’ve read a thousand times, but it was actually a surprisingly original, imaginative tale which I don’t want to spoil too much. Some reviews I’ve seen talk about fantasy – but I wouldn’t class this as a fantasy novel, so don’t let that put you off if it’s not your cup of tea. The only fantasy here is a childhood fantasy, a magical world constructed by children to escape their every day life.

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.”

But, sometimes, the lines between what’s real and what’s imagined get blurred. It can feel a little confusing at parts, but stick with it and everything will come together in ways you didn’t expect.

The book is packed chock-full of twists and turns – the author drops an absolute bombshell halfway through which turns things on their head, and then after that the twists do not stop coming! Even when I thought this author could have nothing more up her sleeve, she’ll keep you guessing until the last few pages.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. 4/5.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Contemporary, Crime, Drama, Psychological thriller

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