Pros: It took me an hour to come down off of the adrenaline high!
Rating: 5 out of 5
T. Kingfisher’s The Twisted Ones blends rural folktale with horror and a found-manuscript aspect. It’s written by Melissa, called “Mouse” by friends and family, a thirty-something whose grandmother died recently. Don’t feel sorry for her–grandma was a mean old thing. Mouse’s dad asks her to clean out grandma’s house, so she and her coonhound Bongo head out into the middle of nowhere to do just that. Unfortunately, it turns out grandma was a hoarder, so Mouse will be at it longer than expected. Then one day she and Bongo take a walk and she ends up on a mysterious hill–one that shouldn’t exist. It’s covered with strangely carved stones. She also finds a diary kept by her long-dead step-grandfather, Cotgrave, alluding to mysterious people in the woods and a strange manuscript his wife has hidden or destroyed.
One unusual thing this book does is reassure us right from the start that Mouse and Bongo will come out of things alive. This is really odd for a horror story, but it in no way reduces the adrenaline rush of things, and it’s nice to know in advance that the dog won’t die.
I suspect if I had owned a border collie, this story would have a very different ending, and I probably would not have been around to type it up. But I had Bongo, and he saved our lives because he is simple and made of nose.
The “found manuscript” angle is handled very well. The book itself is a manuscript typed up by Mouse. She early on finds Cotgrave’s diary, which references a manuscript that he has typed up. That manuscript is an attempt to reconstruct a missing diary called the Green Book, that tells of a girl’s experiences with the odd white people. Each layer adds doubt and uncertainty, and I like that Cotgrave has to fill in a lot of blanks where he doesn’t exactly remember what the Green Book said.
Given that we know from the start that Mouse and Bongo survive, I was concerned as to whether or not the story would be able to stand up on matters of tension. I shouldn’t have worried! It took me about an hour after finishing the book to come down off of the adrenaline high. I’ve been reading horror for decades, so that doesn’t happen very often! Things are tense, exciting, concerning, creepy, and utterly bizarre. The pacing is wonderful too–things get weirder and weirder as the book goes on.
I absolutely recommend that you pick this up. If you’re already a fan of Kingfisher and wondering how this holds up, it’s every bit as good as her other books, just heavier on the horror!