Edit: Meant to publish this on Monday, my usual day, but hit publish now instead — oh well!
Hello, lovely reader! Just a couple of announcements before my spoiler-free review:
If you haven’t already, I recommend that you sign up for my newsletter. I will be doing some giveaways soon and being a subscriber will give you exclusive access to news and such. Click here to sign up!
Next, if you are a fan of contagion horror, you should check out Sick Cruising, which features my viral horror short: “A Memory in Perylene Red”.
Or if you’re a fan of sci-fi horror, you should definitely check out Strange Lands Short Stories: Thrilling Tales, which features my short fiction: “Gemini Syndrome”. You can pre-order it now on Amazon and it releases Tuesday, Nov 17th — and, honestly, this story is one of my favourites that I have written so I would highly recommend it to you, my faithful reader.
Now onwards to the review of The Twisted Ones.
T. Kingfisher is the pseudonym used by Ursula Vernon when she writes fiction aimed at adults. Besides her horror writing, she also writes children’s books and weird comics. Vernon has won the Hugo, Sequoyah, and Ursa Major awards, not to mention a half-dozen Junior Library Guild selections.
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.– The Twisted Ones‘s Amazon page
The Twisted Ones is a 2019 horror novel and winner of the RUSA Award for Best Horror.
Our protagonist, Melissa (nicknamed Mouse), is asked by her dad to clean out her deceased grandmother’s house. Accompanied by her dog, Bongo, Mouse travels to Grandma’s house and finds a hoarder’s wet dream waiting for her.
As she cleans, Mouse finds her step-father’s journal, which describes strange and eldritch things, of creepy fae beings, and twisting, evil stones. Dismissing it at first, Mouse then sees the terrifying things herself in the woods surrounding her grandmother’s house.
Desperate to save herself, to save her dog, and to answer a plea for help, Mouse embarks on a dangerous adventure to confront the things in the woods.
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.– From Arthur Machen’s “The White People” and used in The Twisted Ones
Oh my goodness! I read this book in one sitting!
This novel draws source material from Arthur Machen’s tale, “The White People”, so if you’re familiar with that work, you will recognize some themes and characters. I wasn’t as familiar with it, so I didn’t catch onto the ties to the original story.
In my opinion and the fact it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the novel at all, I don’t think it’s necessary to have read Machen’s tale because Kingfisher does a great job providing enough context to carry the story along.
There are a ton of strengths in this novel. First being how real and loveable the characters are — honestly, Mouse is someone I would 100% want to be friends with. Then you have her dog, Bongo, who she loves to death and who I love to death.
Another strength is the twisting, intriguing narrative that reels you in for a thrilling ride. The book itself contains stories within stories — Mouse’s story, then her step-grandfather’s journal, and the journal written by a haunted young girl that her step-grandfather references and quotes.
Also bonus points for the wry humour strategically placed throughout the book — Mouse is a book editor and she doesn’t hesitate to criticize her step-grandfather’s convoluted journal, then you have hippie Foxy’s sarcasm.
The novel’s action and suspense rises and rises before exploding in a eerie and terrifying climax. This book is a must have read for fans of folk-horror and cosmic horror, because it is the perfect combo of both. Kingfisher weaves the themes of sin, superstitions, paganism, and folklore together in a beautiful tale. Absolutely love, love, loved this book!
x P.L. McMillan