The Girl in the Mirror, Rose Carlyle

Review Written By
Karen Chisholm

Mirror twins are identical twins, with some opposing physical features, so when they are facing each other they can appear as mirrored reflections. Birthmarks can be on opposite sides, cowlicks may run clockwise on one twin and counterclockwise on the other, and so on. In some extreme cases the internal organs of one twin can be on the other side from normal presentation.

Rose Carlyle's debut novel THE GIRL IN THE MIRROR has, as its main characters, Iris and Summer - mirror twins, startlingly alike, with that rare presentation of internal organs. They also have very different personalities, with Summer seen as a happy, content, wife, stepmother and daughter. Iris, the second born twin, the one with the internal organ switch, is less happy, less content, jealous of her sister, but with that deep, abiding attachment to her that twins often have. The action in this novel is mostly seen from her viewpoint, and it's a brave move from this debut author. Taking on the voice of an unpleasant, twisted, deeply conflicted central character is a tricky undertaking, and Carlyle delivers in spades here.

The premise is a reasonably simple one, Summer has a charmed life, but she needs help when trapped overseas with an ill stepchild. Iris rushes to her aid, and takes charge of the family's beloved yacht, an easy enough task you'd assume given that Iris is the natural sailor, the daughter convinced the yacht should have gone to her when their father died, but something happens deep in the Indian Ocean, which changes everything.

Despite the fact that there is definitely something "made for film" about THE GIRL IN THE MIRROR, this works well as a psychological thriller novel. Mind you, readers may feel the need for a bit of fresh air, sunshine and a shake off after too much time in the company of Iris - somebody that really seems inherently bad, even if there are the slightest slivers of sympathy for her feelings of rejection, seeing herself always as the unwanted one; the unplanned, unnamed baby. Added to this their father's second relationship and new family, and Iris feels very bitter and unhappy with her lot in life. The author uses this portrayal to explore a lot of sibling and family issues, as well as human traits like resentment; jealousy; desire, rejection; and sheer, unmitigated malevolence. Amplify that by the complicated relationship that twins sometimes experience with each other, and their parents, and you've got a powder keg bubbling away. It's creepy, discomforting, horrible reading, and utterly mesmerising at the same time. Having said that, there are aspects of the plot that readers will see coming, but that works here. In that slow-motion, inevitable car crash coming way. But stand by, there are some surprises, twists, turns and road spikes to come.

The contrast of glorious settings - the families current living circumstances in bright, sunlight beach-side Australia; to the wide open vistas of the Indian Ocean; from the Seychelles to Thailand; and back to Cairns - with the physicality of sailing, and the internal monologue driven by jealousy and resentment were stark without being overplayed, chilling despite the obvious heat.  

Complicated and discomforting, THE GIRL IN THE MIRROR is one of those psychological thrillers that will make you think about it long after you've finished reading.



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Year of Publication

Identical twins only look the same …

Beautiful twin sisters Iris and Summer are startlingly alike, but beyond what the eye can see lies a darkness that sets them apart. Cynical and insecure, Iris has long been envious of open-hearted Summer's seemingly never-ending good fortune, including her perfect husband, Adam.

Called to Thailand to help sail the family yacht to the Seychelles, Iris nurtures her own secret hopes for what might happen on the journey. But when she unexpectedly finds herself alone in the middle of the Indian Ocean, everything changes.

Now is her chance to take what she's always wanted - the idyllic life she's always coveted. But just how far will she go to get the life she's dreamed about? And how will she make sure no one discovers the truth?

Review The Girl in the Mirror, Rose Carlyle
Karen Chisholm
Wednesday, August 26, 2020

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