We have another brilliant debut to talk about today in the shape of Carole Johnstone’s book Mirrorland. This nail-gnawing read is due to be published by Borough Press on the 1st of April and oh boy, this is a twisted read that you’re going to want to cancel all plans for (plans? What are they?) and dive straight into! Thanks to the publishers for approving my request on Netgalley, you are therefore partly to blame for my really REALLY late nights reading!
You, dear readers, can pre-purchase your own slice of gothic here.
Scottish writer Carole Johnstone’s debut novel, Mirrorland, will be published in spring 2021 by Borough Press/HarperCollins in the UK and Commonwealth and by Scribner/Simon & Schuster in North America.
Her award-winning short fiction has been reprinted in many annual ‘Best Of’ anthologies in the UK and the US. She has been published by Titan Books, Tor Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, and PS Publishing, and has written Sherlock Holmes stories for Constable & Robinson and Running Press.
“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…”
Definition of sister:
“Some studies have found that sisters display more traits indicating jealousy around their siblings than their male counterparts.”
Mirrorland was my first read of February and my gosh did it set the bar for the rest of the months reads, it was everything I needed before I knew I needed it. The bond of sisterhood has always been a special one but in many it harbours darker feelings, one of jealously, competition and layers of rage. We are introduced to two identical twins, Cat and El, we are tail-spinned into their childhood where they regular retreat in to an intriguing world that they have both named Mirrorland. Like a mirror, I could immediately see the way both girls differ, Cat appears the weaker of the two, the more submissive you could say, whereas El holds all the card and power, cruelly so.
This debut brings all my favourite themes to the table, spinning them perfectly into a phenomenal gut punch of a gothic thriller with a deliciously dark dashing of psychological thrill. I devoured this read in two evenings, it was truly phenomenal. From the differing characteristics of our main ladies, to the intoxicating claustrophobic feel of the novel – I knew from chapter one that I was in, so in. Mirrorland is a darkly suspenseful tale, one that ties both aspects of a gothic fairy-tale with a tasty swirl of Gone Girl.
This debut won my heart with it’s lashings of obsession, toxic sisterly relationships and ingrained shared trauma. Carole has crafted a dark, hazed world that is blurred with unreliability and a storyline which will make you feel psychologically conflicted in terms of whose side you should be on. None of the characters are particularly likeable by default but you do become invested in them, their lives and the mystery that whirls around them. Mirrorland is a book that you’ll find yourself utterly compelled by, hypnotised by the unfolding storyline and the flashbacks of life in Cat’s mind, this is one read you’ll find yourself drowning in, gasping for breath as every chapter washes over you.
My recommendation is that you pre-order this gothic chiller and begin it as soon as it lands on your door mat – grab a sweet tea, cuddle up and enjoy!