I don’t request a lot of ARCs from publishers because I have reading whims that take me in different directions than what I had intended. This happens a lot. Once in a while NetGalley has offered me books without having to go through the request process, and Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone (Amazon) must have been one of them. Thank you to NetGalley and Scribner for this ARC so I could offer my honest opinion of the book.
From the publisher: “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…”
Triggers warnings: Emotional and physical abuse of adults and children. Lots of it.
I don’t normally read psychological thriller or magical realism and Mirrorland was a combination of both mixed in with a bit of a horror story. Whoa! What a rough start. The book’s world building was a bit much for me, There was so much magical realism at the beginning, which I understand was necessary, but I wondered what I had gotten myself in to. After all, Stephen King wrote a positive review and I used to love reading King’s work when I was younger. Luckily, about a 1/3 of the way in, things started to pick up and I wasn’t as confused about the world.
There were parts of this story that were really suspenseful involving El’s disappearance, but the whole Mirrorland other world elements were too fantastical for me. The less I read about Mirrorland, the more I liked the rest of the story. Estranged identical twins, one disappears and the other sister comes home to find her, and the childhood friend who loved both sisters but married one, a creepy Gothic house that the girls escaped when they were twelve, only to have one of the sisters buy the house when she grew up and set it up almost exactly like it was when they were growing up. That’s some twisted thinking.
Mirrorland had multiple endings. There were several times when I was just so happy to have the story be done, because there was a satisfying conclusion, only to find out that there was more to the story. This happened several times. At first I thought “Enough already” but still felt compelled to go on. Having finished it, I can see how/why the story was plotted that way. It makes sense. And even though I don’t normally read psychological thrillers, I totally saw the ending coming a mile away. Maybe that’s from picking apart Nancy Drew mysteries, but it seemed fairly obvious to me. I knew the who, what, where and why, but not the how.
Mirrorland goes on sale April 20, 2021.
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