Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone

Posted On 22 April 2021

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My Five Word TL:DR Review : This was a mixed experience

MirrorlandOkay, here’s the thing, I actually enjoyed this, it’s quite a compelling read, unusually dark, twisted and, well, strange.

For the avoidance of doubt this is a thriller.  Two identical twins, one of them missing, suspected drowned in a boating accident.  El and Cat haven’t spoken for years, they were so close as children but past events have driven them apart and they haven’t seen each other for quite some time.  With El’s disappearance Cat returns to her childhood home, something of a gothic monstrosity that holds many unusual memories.  She never expected to return and although her visit is at first a little on the reluctant side she soon enough finds herself becoming embroiled with the investigation, especially once she starts to receive strange threats and even stranger secret clues.

Now, I can’t really talk about the plot because it would be so easy to give things away so this is probably going to be a little bit of a teaser of a review.

Where to begin.  Let’s start with the characters.  So, obviously Cat plays a key role, El is absent but through flashbacks to the two’s childhood we gradually build up a picture of their relationship and trust me when I say their childhood was not the most straightforward.  Ross is El’s husband, handsome and charismatic, distraught about his missing wife and anxious that the police are about to give up the search.  Now the thing here is there’s a ‘history’ between these two – but I won’t say more.  We also have a few peripheral characters, friends to El before she went missing that serve to illuminate that maybe everything in the marriage was less than perfect.  Gradually, we start to build up a picture and it’s a little bleak.

Setting.  This is where things become a little bit surreal.  We do spend the majority of the time in the girl’s childhood home, a lot of that time in particular through flashbacks and it can feel a little surreal.  Let me be clear, this is not magical realism – or at least it isn’t in my mind – what this is about is escapism and childhood imagination working overtime to block things out (although clowns?).  On top of this there’s a certain aspect of unreliable narrator taking place here not to mention some squashing of memories which helps to spin an overall sense of confusion.

In terms of criticisms.  I think that there is definitely an element of feeling confused at certain points with this one, part of that is there is also an element of busyness and part is the slow reveal of things past and present.  On top of this there are certain aspects to the story that definitely made it difficult for me to connect to a couple of the characters.

All that being said, I did enjoy this.  It was a quick read, it was gripping and original and undeniable twisted.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks, the above is my own opinion.

My rating 3.5 of 5 stars

6 Responses to “Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone”

  1. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    I’m surprised we both had a similar rating and similar reactions to the way the author handled Mirrorland. That was my biggest hurdle too. I loved the thriller/psychological elements, but every time we went into the weird make believe world the story would start to lose me.

  2. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    Having already seen Mogsy’s review and noticed that both of you did not feel quite comfortable with the Mirrorland setting, I keep wondering how I might react to it, particularly because both your descriptions make me think a little about Seanan McGuire alternate worlds in her Wayward Children series… I guess I will have to see for myself! 😉
    Thanks for sharing!

  3. Tammy

    I’m glad you enjoyed this, even if it was a mixed read for you. I’m trying to read it soon😁

  4. Booking Ahead/Weekly Wrap Up | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone […]

  5. Gobookmart.com

    This novel is good one for horror story lovers. We have also reviewed this novel, do read and share your comments https://gobookmart.com/mirrorland-by-carole-johnstone-is-a-dark-and-twisty-page-turner-from-its-opening-to-the-end/

  6. Top Ten Tuesday : My Ten Most Recent Reads | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone –  I did enjoy this. It was a quick read, it was gripping and original and undeniably twisted.  A strange read that takes a little time to reveal its secrets.  3.5 of 5 stars […]

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