Title: The Twisted Ones
Author: T. Kingfisher
Publisher: Saga Press
Publication date: October 1 2019
Hardcover: 400 pages
When a young woman clears out her deceased grandmother’s home in rural North Carolina, she finds long-hidden secrets about a strange colony of beings in the woods in this chilling novel that reads like The Blair Witch Project meets The Andy Griffith Show.
When Mouse’s dad asks her to clean out her dead grandmother’s house, she says yes. After all, how bad could it be?
Answer: pretty bad. Grandma was a hoarder, and her house is stuffed with useless rubbish. That would be horrific enough, but there’s more—Mouse stumbles across her step-grandfather’s journal, which at first seems to be filled with nonsensical rants…until Mouse encounters some of the terrifying things he described for herself.
Alone in the woods with her dog, Mouse finds herself face to face with a series of impossible terrors—because sometimes the things that go bump in the night are real, and they’re looking for you. And if she doesn’t face them head on, she might not survive to tell the tale.
From Hugo Award–winning author Ursula Vernon, writing as T. Kingfisher, The Twisted Ones is a gripping, terrifying tale bound to keep you up all night—from both fear and anticipation of what happens next.
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
How did I get this book: Review copy from publisher
Format (e- or p-): ebook
Hello nightmares my old friends, it’s nice to see you again this October.
Mouse’s elderly father asks for her help emptying her recently deceased grandmother’s house. In Mouse’s family, at least the side that matters, when someone asks for help, you say yes: even though it means going back to a place she never truly liked, to empty the house of someone who was truly, truly awful who knows for how long given her grandmother’s hoarding tendencies. So there goes Mouse, with her faithful dog Bongo (what a good boy, 11/10) to clear away rooms after room of her grandmother’s hoard.
Here is the basic recipe for this nightmare in the shape of a book:
A house in the middle of nowhere full of rooms our protagonist cannot even fully see inside. A whole upper floor inaccessible until she can clear the ground floor first. A house that has no internet, no good connection and a phone that has a factory problem and keeps overheating and crashing. Woods. Woodpeckers, pecking ,pecking, pecking away at all hours of the day (and night). Weird-as-ass rocks found on a mysterious hill. Dead Deer. A diary that belonged to Mouse’s dead step-grandfather, with a story about a story about the White Ones with a repeated refrain that finds itself ear worming into Mouse’s mind:
Then I made faces like the faces on the rocks, and I twisted myself about like the twisted ones, and I lay down flat on the ground like the dead ones…
Add to the basic recipe: a framing device that is Mouse’s own retelling of the totally, completely impossible supernatural events she encountered coated in a healthy veneer of humour (you know, the type that has a tendency to surface at the oddest of times) with a brilliant juxtaposition of mundane and supernatural and the result here is a delectable novel that I devoured in one sitting. I was scared out of my wits, yes, just as I was entertained and intrigued.
The voice and setting are all very expertly done but perhaps my favourite thing about the novel, which tends to be my favourite thing about T Kingfisher’s work overall, is the unpredictability of how the story progresses, the subversion of the most common horror tropes. Instead of the Lone Heroine who endures her horrors alone, Mouse shares the stories of uncovered horror very early on with her friendly neighbours Foxy and Tomas. The strength of the novel, lies in this shared horror – instead of suffering and enduring alone, Mouse has friends who help her, who go through the events alongside her. She never stands alone – and that was fistpumpingly awesome and wholesome.
My thoughts on the novel would not be complete without mentioning that Mouse is the type of heroine who will do anything and everything for her dog Bongo. And that’s really, how it all starts. 1
Rating: 8 – Excellent
- Fear not, we know from early on, given the framing narrative, that the dog survives. ↩