Book Review: Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 320 pages

Published: April 20, 2021

Publisher: Scribner

Genre: Mystery & Thriller, Suspenseful

Synopsis:

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…


Cat managed to get far away from 36 Westeryk Road, the imposing gothic house in Edinburgh where she and her estranged twin sister, El, grew up. But when El mysteriously disappears after going out on her sailboat, Cat is forced to return to the dreadful house, which has scarcely changed in twenty years. As she readjusts to returning back to the past she thought she left behind, someone is leaving Cat clues in almost every room: a treasure hunt that leads right back to Mirrorland, a dark, imaginary place the sisters invented under the pantry stairs full of pirates, witches, and clowns, but also where Cat knows the truth lies crouched and waiting.

This novel was one atmospheric mystery. With a creepy and menacing tone, Johnstone takes readers into a dark world that they will tend not to forget. You will feel absorb into this world, albeit sad, full of dark secrets and pain. The descriptive imagery and mysterious storytelling transported me to Edinburgh, an aspect that I appreciated since travelling now is limited. 

Although rich in descriptive imagery, readers may have a difficult time getting invested in the story. The line between reality and Mirrorland becomes blurred, and I found myself having difficulty differentiating between what is real and what’s not. There is a point to using this magical realism: a healing tool for Cat. Cat uses the imaginary world to escape the dark truths of life. Johnstone did such an excellent job with it. However, it was too good of a job. It might deter other readers from being drawn into the story. If it wasn’t for the audiobook, I would have given up on the book. The narrator did such a fantastic job with such a complicated story. 

Another issue I had with the book is with the ending. Without giving any spoilers, if the book concluded at a certain point, the story would have been more believable and more convincingly. The original end felt rushed and just didn’t mesh with the rest of the book. 

Atmospheric, chilling and mysterious, Mirrorland draws and entice readers to make this one of the most thrilling mysteries of 2021. Packed with magical realism, this is one book that readers will definitely not forget. 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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