Rose Carlyle’s unsettling debut is a bit like what might happen if the Sweet Valley Twins weren’t as innocent as that dimple on the left cheek made them out to be. The Girl in the Mirror introduces the wealthy Carmichael twins, blonde-haired and blue-eyed beauties. Narrator, Iris, has always been envious of her sister, Summer, who is more popular, more beautiful, and seemingly more loved. Iris wants what Summer has, and when she’s presented with the opportunity to take it, what will she do?
The story begins when the twins set sail from Thailand to the Seychelles on Bathsheba, their family yacht. It’s all smooth sailing until the unthinkable happens and Iris is forced to make a life-changing decision. Complicating things is the twins’ father’s will; when he died he made a rule that the first of his children to marry and have a baby would inherit his $100 million dollar estate. While Summer is married to the perfect man, Iris has recently split from her husband. But in the race for the inheritance, there’s also step-siblings to contend with as well as the twins’ younger brother.
While Iris isn’t always a likeable narrator – she’s out for herself, scheming to marry someone she doesn’t love so she can get pregnant and inherit the estate – there’s something appealing about her cynical view of the world and a relatability in her insecurity, which keeps the reader on her side as she digs herself a bigger and bigger hole.
New Zealand author Rose Carlyle has sailed on scientific yachting expedition and this expertise shows in her writing – the Indian Ocean is the perfect isolated setting for something underhanded to occur. As a debut author, she ticks all the boxes for a page-turning psychological thriller you won’t be able to put down once you pick it up.
The themes of The Girl in the Mirror reads like a list of the seven deadly sins – particularly envy, greed, and lust, with a generous side-serving of wrath. Readers will need to suspend their disbelief at several shocking plot twists – this is a family with lots of soap-opera-style secrets, the culmination of which leads to a very twisted, very sinister ending that might leave you feeling a little seasick.
The Girl in the Mirror by Rose Carlyle is published by Allen & Unwin.
I rummage through my life as if it’s a bag of goodies, looking for something that I want to keep. I don’t find anything.