Mirrorland, by Carole Johnstone

breeburkitt's review

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"Mirrorland" opens with 12-year-old identical twins El and Cat found at the Granton docks in Edinburgh, in search of a pirate ship to join. Years pass and the two eventually become estranged after a falling out. Cat escapes to the US, while El marries their childhood friend, Ross, and remains in Edinburgh.

After El goes missing, Cat is forced to return to the place she'd never come back to and their childhood home. There, Cat finds herself falling back into memories of their childhood imaginary world, known as Mirrorland. Mirrorland is full of clowns, witches, pirates, elaborate adventure and imaginary friends. They turn to this fantasy place in an attempt to escape the violence, isolation and sadness of their own home life.

Cat is convinced her sister isn't dead and a series of elaborate clues and warnings only strengthens her beliefs. As she remembers more and more of her past, El finds herself faced with the question of what exactly happened to her sister and whether she herself is now in danger.

The premise of "Mirrorland" was intriguing, but it just wasn't for me in the end. I had to trudge through the fantasy" portions of the girl's childhood adventures. These sections were just too detailed and dragged on and on. My interest had waned by the time we finally reached the "thriller" portion to the point where I just didn't care. The twists were layered on top of each other that, by the climax of the novel, I simply didn't care.

meastoyles's review

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dark mysterious tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


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natashaniezgoda's review

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pzinnel's review

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41/2 stars. I wanted to give it a 5 but so much of it was confusing as I listened. If I had read it, maybe it would have been less confusing?

twainy88's review

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I thought it was supposed to be horror. Nope. I might have dozed off in the first 25%, it was very long & I didn’t get the point of Mirrorland.

There was death, mystery, suspense. The ending was good but not for me as it took too long to get there. Writing was good, the narrator was ok.

Extra star for this little gem: “Chuck it in the f*ck it bucket.”

Just because this wasn’t for me doesn’t mean it won’t be for you!

girlwellread's review

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bookishcatsavant's review

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Thank you to the author, publisher & Dart Frogg Comm for gifting me a copy of Mirrorland.

Mirrorland is a fantasy thriller (is there such a genre?) centering around two twin sisters. El is the “elder” twin born 4 minutes before Cat and has been the ruling sister of the two. As life would have it, when the sisters become adults, they grow continents apart with Cat moving away from Edinburgh to Los Angeles while El stays behind.

Cat is forced to return to her hometown however, when El disappears under mysterious circumstances. Cat is convinced El hasn’t disappeared and is only playing mind games with her. On top of it, someone’s leaving clues galore for Cat which sounds just like what El would do. With the police suspecting her, Cat must quickly solve her sister’s disappearance confronting skeletons of the sisters’ past, by revisiting a magical and mysterious world called Mirrorland, created by the twins when they were children.

Where do I begin? This book wasn’t like any thriller I’ve ever read...which is an understatement. The story was slow to set in motion but then it starts creeping up on you, and before you know it, it becomes unputdownable! Another thing that I found very unique is that normally thrillers have clear cut likeable or unlikeable characters. With this one, I found to change my opinion of the sisters, Cat particularly, a lot. Honestly this entire book was a mindfuck up until the final explosive ending, once I got past the very slow initial pages. I highly recommend Mirrorland to thriller fans who are looking for a book different from the usual norm.

abookwormwithwine's review

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Book: 3/5
Audiobook: 4/5

Well this is a hard review to write. I went into [b:Mirrorland|54304146|Mirrorland|Carole Johnstone||68977004] by [a:Carole Johnstone|3008545|Carole Johnstone|] very excited because I had heard it was a super creepy and shocking read. It was definitely both of those things, but for some reason didn't resonate the way I had hoped it would. I listened to the audiobook which is narrated by Katie Leung and I definitely had to listen to it slower than normal because of how thick her accent was. It actually kind of surprised me since she was supposed to have lived in the states for quite a while and I wasn't sure how true her accent was to the character and the point she was at. That aside, I did really enjoy the audio and thought Leung did a great job bringing this creepy story to life. She was also fantastic with all the different accents she had to do for other characters, and I was impressed by how well she did them.

Mirrorland is a slow burn which made me especially happy I was doing audio, and I really enjoyed the fact that Cat had to go searching for clues that "El" had left for her. Mirrorland was an especially creepy place that the sisters had created, and at times I did get a little confused and had a hard time separating this place from the present time period. I just think the mix of magical realism was done in a confusing way, and I wish it had been clearer to the reader. This actually might be a good book to read instead of listening to, and maybe you wouldn't be as confused as I was in parts. There are also a lot of parts that are very gripping and had me dying to know what was going to happen next, so it is a hard book to try to recommend to people. I would say if you like magical realism and the sounds of the synopsis that you should check it out, but also keep in mind that it does end up getting very dark and I would imagine it being triggering for certain readers. This is Johnstone's debut novel, and I will still definitely check out her sophomore novel whenever it comes out.

Thank you to the publisher and for my advanced listening and digital copies. All opinions and thoughts are my own.

suzieszcz's review against another edition

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"Four minutes. Four minutes and god knows how many generations of pain and lies and suffering have always separated us. But she still knows me better than anyone else in the whole world. Not because we were once almost fused together like sand and limestone. We never were. But because we will always be bound together by something much stronger. Mirrorland was magic. It taught us how to fight, to hide, to dream. It taught us how to escape long before we broke through its wall or its world."

meeranair_54's review against another edition

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Catriona Morgan would’ve never come back to Edinburgh if it weren’t for her twin sister’s disappearance. When she and El swore to start a new life, far from the reaches of their haunting house, neither of them guessed just how soon their past would catch up to them.

Back at 36 Westeryk Road, Cat is confronted by the dark truth of her and El’s childhood. Mirrorland, a world they had created for themselves holds much more than just their imagination. The pirates and witches who were a part of their childhood play threaten to reveal the realities of their life that Cat has long since repressed.

Now, determined to find El, Cat begins to receive anonymous emails and messages that will compel her to revisit those memories.

There is a large part of me that is super impressed with Carole Johnstone’s planning. The many layers of the book intrigued me enough to keep reading – from the fantastical elements of Mirrorland that overshadow Cat’s present to understanding their sisterhood (which takes on a new form over the course of the book).

Mirrorland has been constructed with such precision that it feels very much like a living, breathing entity. A lot of the flashback scenes composed of Mirrorland are tightly interwoven into the present, so they sort of layer Cat’s narration of the events.

What I found to be overwhelming was the pace at which these flashbacks are revealed. I couldn’t comprehend whether the scenes were rooted in reality or merely Cat reliving the fantasies created during her childhood. And so, that left me perplexed for a substantial portion of the book.

There are a few clichés in the novel, one which... Read the rest of the review on my blog