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.
Horror After Dark Review
THE TWISTED ONES is the first novel I have read by T. Kingfisher. This story combines atmosphere, legends, beautiful imagery, and some memorable characters. “Mouse” and her dog, Bongo, are tasked with the job of clearing out her deceased Grandmother’s house so that it can be sold.
Two things we learn about Grandma right off the bat; she was a hoarder (with a house that invites images of all kinds of hidden vermin), and she was a nasty, unlikeable and unrepentant she-witch of a woman.
“. . . The only reason anyone would show up was to make sure she was really dead.”
Mouse discovers a journal from her step-grandfather, Frederick Cotgrave, and is plunged into a world he describes with “white people”, and strange stones bearing etchings of what he calls “the twisted ones”.
Oh, and his wife was a mean spirited woman, even to him.
“. . . But families run on optimistic lies sometimes . . . “
While the comments about Bongo amused me greatly, most of the scenes with Mouse felt very repetitive until towards the very end of the novel. She would “think” or say the same thoughts/excuses so often that I wished she would disappear and leave the story to Bongo’s thoughts, instead.
“. . . Bongo’s barks had gone from “Die UPS scum!” to “Pet me pet me why aren’t you petting me?!” . . . “
Some comedic neighbors from the commune nearby–especially one feisty woman named Foxy–did make the reading bearable, despite my increasing agitation with Mouse’s inane comments.
Aside from the writing “tone”, the atmosphere was fantastic. During the outdoor/woods scenes, I got a sense of the other worldliness that was being conveyed. Combined with bits from the step-grandfather’s journal, and the cryptic comments from the nearest neighbors, even the presence of an unusual stone in the yard would make me think twice about staying in this location.
“. . . Sometimes it’s there, and sometimes it ain’t . . . “
Overall, while I was not a fan of the main character and the writing style where she literally interrupted her own thoughts with other thoughts, the central story and atmosphere were well worth the read. The supporting characters–and dog–were a fun inclusion, and I genuinely looked forward to them. The last quarter or so of the novel changed the tone so well that I couldn’t put it down. For that section alone, the entire novel was worth reading to get to. The implications and fear brought on was heightened, as the tension did not abate.
“. . . and I twisted myself around like the twisted ones . . . “
If some of the end “suspicions” had been brought to mind sooner in the book, I believe this idea would have kept me captivated much longer. Still, definitely worth the read, and I would read more from this author in the future.
About The Author
About T Kingfisher
T. Kingfisher is the vaguely absurd pen-name of Ursula Vernon, an author from North Carolina. In another life, she writes children’s books and weird comics. She has been nominated for the World Fantasy and the Eisner, and has won the Hugo, Sequoyah, Nebula, Alfie, WSFA, Coyotl and Ursa Major awards, as well as a half-dozen Junior Library Guild selections.
This is the name she uses when writing things for grown-ups. Her work includes multiple fairy-tale retellings and odd little stories about elves and goblins.
When she is not writing, she is probably out in the garden, trying to make eye contact with butterflies.