Twisty, Dark and Brilliantly Crafted: Read our Review of Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone

Twisty, Dark and Brilliantly Crafted: Read our Review of Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone

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 – is it 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…

Let’s start with the setting of 36 Westeryk Road – the book opens with a plan of the house, and then, over the next 400 pages, author Carole Johnstone brings this extremely creepy home to spine-tingling life. Within the walls of this creepy gothic abode lies Mirrorland, the fantasy playland the twins used to visit as children and which still has a hold on the place. This is where the thriller genre merges into a combination of genres, including magical realism, something Johnstone masterfully carries off. Witches, pirates, a clown café. The house has a life of its own and no review I give here will do this unusual book justice. I found it frightening, fascinating and utterly fabulous all at once.

Returning to Westeryk Road is difficult for Cat (I get it, and I only had to read about the place), but not just because of the past – also because of Ross, her sister’s husband, who Cat has a history with. Was he responsible for her sister’s disappearance? The police investigate, and the twists and turns come thick and fast, and I was left guessing to the very end. And honestly, I did not predict the ending. #mindblown

Carole Johnstone’s Mirrorland is a twisty, dark, and brilliantly crafted psychological thriller about love and betrayal, redemption and revenge. A propulsive, page-turning debut about the power of imagination and the price of freedom that will have you watching shadows on your walls after dark.


Read an Extract From Mirrorland, Carole Johnstone's Propulsive, Page-Turning Debut

Review | Extract

6 April 2021

Read an Extract From Mirrorland, Carole Johnstone's Propulsive, Page-Turning Debut


    No. 36 Westeryk Road: an imposing flat-stone house on the outskirts of Edinburgh. A place of curving shadows and crumbling grandeur. But it’s what lies under the house that is extraordinary – Mirrorland. A vivid make-believe world that twin sisters Cat and El created as children. A place of escape, but from what? Now in her thirties, Cat has turned her back on her past. But when she receives news that one sunny morning, El left harbour in her sailboat and never came back, she is forced to return to Westeryk Road; to re-enter a forgotten world of lies, betrayal and danger. Because El had a plan. She’s left behind a treasure hunt that will unearth long-buried secrets. And to discover the truth, Cat must first confront the reality of her childhood – a childhood that wasn’t nearly as idyllic as she remembers…
    Carole Johnstone
    About the author

    Carole Johnstone

    Carole Johnstone's award-winning short fiction has been reprinted in many annual 'Best of' anthologies in the UK and US. She lives in Argyll & Bute, Scotland, with her husband. Mirrorland is her debut novel. 

    Books by Carole Johnstone


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