cover image Mirrorland


Carole Johnstone. Scribner, $27 (320p) ISBN 978-1-9821-3635-2

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. [em]Agent: Allison Hunter; Janklow & Nesbit Assoc. (Apr.) [/em]