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...
As soon as I read the description for this, I had to read it! Eerie, mysterious, slightly fantastical, what more could a reader want!?
Mirrorland is the tense and eerie telling of a nightmarish childhood that manifested itself into a world of fantasy; filled with pirates, adventure and more. El and Cat are identical twins that jointly create this world of adventure and fantasy and I have to say, at times it was so convincing I found it hard to tell what was reality and what was imagination.
I found the writing a little all over the place for the first 50 pages but then really started to get into it and I found the narrative improved immensely as well. You become completely immersed in this dark and sinister world of Cat and El's and you are determined to uncover the mystery behind El's disappearance but also that house. Each corner and room seem covered in shadow and secret and as Cat begins to uncover and remember the many things that happened during her time in that house, you start to slowly piece together the true horror and tragedy that happened within those walls.
I loved the theme around pirates, villains, heroes and adventure. It made you remember those simple times as a child when you only needed your imagination to escape into a world with endless possibilities and where there were no limits. I won't lie, I would have loved to have had an imagination as strong as Cat and El's but who knows, maybe that's a twin thing! But then there is a sad side to this where you slowly discover why they created such a fantastical world; it wasn't for fun, it was for escape from the real life villains and bad guys.
Overall, I really enjoyed it. Once I got into it, I couldn't put it down and was pleasantly surprised at the many twists and turns that I didn't see coming. It's a credit to Johnstone that the reader becomes as immerses into the world as Cat and it soon becomes difficult to separate what is real and what isn't throughout the book.
If you're into dark and sinister stories, then I would definitely give this a read. A big thank you to Net Galley for letting me read it pre publication.
IN 3 WORDS/PHRASES:
'Because stealing someone else's air is how you breathe.'
I feel that I would have liked El if we got to know her a bit better. She had issues, that much us clear, but she was a super strong character!