“Unsettling...unlocks its mysteries slowly.” —The New York Times Book Review
“A dark, twisty, and richly atmospheric exploration of the power of imagination” —Ruth Ware, author of The Woman in Cabin 10
“Beautifully written and told with a watchmaker’s precision” (Stephen King), Mirrorland is a thrilling psychological suspense novel about twin sisters, the man they both love, the house that has always haunted them, and the childhood stories they can’t leave behind.
Cat lives in Los Angeles, far from 36 Westeryk Road, the imposing gothic house in Edinburgh where she and her estranged twin sister, El, grew up. As kids, 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 hasn’t 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: a treasure hunt that leads them back to Mirrorland, where the truth lies waiting...
A brilliantly crafted story that “feels like the love child of Gillian Flynn and Stephen King” (Greer Hendricks, #1 New York Times bestselling author), Mirrorland is a propulsive, page-turning debut about love, betrayal, revenge—and the price of freedom.
Cat Morgan, the narrator of Johnstone's intriguing if uneven debut, fled Scotland years ago and settled in Los Angeles. When she gets a call from Ross MacAuley, her brother-in-law, informing her that her estranged twin sister, Ellice MacAuley, has gone missing while sailing on the Firth of Forth, she returns home to Edinburgh. Cat stays at the house where she and El grew up and shared an imaginary world they called Mirrorland, a place where they could escape the grim realities of their childhood, which included physical and emotional abuse. Cat decides she must immerse herself once more in Mirrorland if she's to solve the mystery of El's disappearance. Cat's quest is complicated by her belief that El is not dead, her receipt of anonymous notes warning her to leave, and the rekindling of her complex relationship with Ross. Johnstone skillfully juxtaposes Mirrorland against the real world, but El is seen only through Cat's unreliable eyes, and their relationship is so confused that the reader may wonder how much of what Cat says about El is true. This ambitious blend of psychological suspense and horror casts a powerful light on the liberating power of imagination.
Really, really incredible!
Took me back to my childhood
The fantastic game play and make believe resonated with my own childhood. We did not have villains that had real life counterparts but to elaborate would nudge this into spoiler territory. Our childhood games were fueled by Dickens, Austen and Alcott. It’s sad today’s childhood don’t read the classics like my generation did. At one point in the book there’s a list of all the books that the mother Nancy read to her daughters. I’ve read all of them. I loved this book and the vivid images it conjured as Mirrorland unfolded.
I genuinely felt and related to this wonderful, heart wrenching, gotta keep up, suspenseful book! Definitely buying a physical copy for my favorites collection!