Oh this book.
I got curious about it because it has received high praises on many blogs and one of my coworkers at the bookstore loved it too, so me and two other coworkers decided that it should be the first book for our book club. But… (sigh). I really thought I would like it.
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.
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. (Goodreads)
The Twisted Ones surprised me because I thought I would really like it. It’s a horror novel about a young woman who drives down to North Carolina from her home in Philly with her dog to clean out her horrible dead grandmother’s house but finds her step-grandfather’s journal while doing so that mentions weird beings in the woods behind the house.
It sounded promising. I liked the narration style at first because the narrator speaks directly to the reader since the protagonist, Mouse, is writing about her experience in a journal or something. This style felt weird to read at first because it’s as if the narrator is aware that you’re reading her story. It felt more confrontational, like a face-to-face conversation. But I got used to it.
I also liked the suspense as weird shit starts to happen and Mouse slowly becomes aware of what’s really going on, and the other characters Mouse meets. Well, only Foxy because Foxy is a badass and totally awesome. The setting also appealed to me and helped to make the story seem scary because it sounded too much like where I live (although my house isn’t secluded like Mouse’s grandmother’s) and have lived (my grandmother’s house in Jamaica; I’m convinced there are ghosts there that only come out at night and in the day when you’re not looking). And I also liked that this story was inspired by Arthur Machen’s short story “The White People,” which I’ve never read but almost did. (I borrowed a book of his short stories from the library last year but didn’t get to read it before the due date. After completing The Twisted Ones, however, I went back to the library to borrow it.) Plus, I often like stories with the “something weird in the woods” trope. This one had an almost haunting feel to it that reminded me of Cabeswater in Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Boys series. It’s a place where anything can happen.
However, after a while the story began to lose its appeal and I was tempted to give up on it as I lost interest. If not for Foxy, I probably would have done so. Basically, Mouse pushed my patience to the limit. Weird shit was happening. Weird creatures running across the yard, weird creatures hanging out in the woods, weird shit mentioned in the step-grandfather’s journal that seem to be real, weird random-ass hills that pop up outta nowhere, and Foxy and her peeps even tell Mouse weird shit happens around these parts and still Mouse took FOREVER to accept it and stop making excuses for all the weird shit she sees. That really annoyed me.
The excuses she made for all the weird shit was obviously to insert some humor in the story, which worked for me at first but became grating later when it’s obvious that something supernatural is going on and the protagonist should either do something about it or just leave. I knew she wouldn’t just leave because there were more pages to read, but her reason for going off into the woods with Foxy wasn’t believable to me considering how she felt before and all that was happening.
That was probably the second time I almost stopped reading, but I pushed on to the end and felt annoyed when I got there. I guess I was hoping for some greater significance to the plot or for the resolution to be more interesting. Instead, it was all underwhelming.
It starts out strong and is sometimes humorous, but the protagonist becomes more and more annoying as the story progresses (at least, to me she’s annoying).
Buy | Borrow | Bypass
Many readers like it and it’s not a bad read. I’d actually recommend it.
So this weird thing happened…
Probably a week or so ago. I was working from home (coronavirus locked down everywhere) when I saw something white leaping across the road in front my house. I jumped (because I IMMEDIATELY thought of this story) and looked out the window to see a deer standing on the lawn of the house across the street staring into the backyard there, which was random because it was the middle of the day. Its fur was matted and its side that faced me looked like something big grazed it or something. I almost thought it was a creature from out of this book because the deer looked so weird. But I quickly got over my scare and went back to work.
20 thoughts on ““The Twisted Ones” by T. Kingfisher”
I thought the first half of The Twisted Ones was good, but it lost me in the final act. The genius of Machen’s original story was you never quite knew what was happening: something supernatural? Initiation into an old secret religion? Was the girl going crazy? He managed to keep you guessing even after the conclusion. But the final act of the Twisted Ones committed to one particular explanation, which I found less than compelling.
The end didn’t work for me either. I’d really like to read Machen’s book to see in what ways Twisted Ones is similar.
Sorry that the book didn’t work out for you. The main character (based on your description) seems a bit frustrating, but the premise of this book sounds like the perfect setting for a spooky story.
She was frustrating, but yes! Perfect setting for a spooky story. I think about it every time I look at the woods in my backyard lol.
Sorry the book didn’t work for you! I was curious about it but unsure I wanted to take the plunge.
A side note on your deer- we see them all the time here! Day, Dawn, dusk. So it’s not too weird. Of course if you’re not accustomed to seeing them that’s another story! Cool anecdote though!
Thanks. They usually come out here very late at night or very early in the morning. It wasn’t too weird to see it in the day, it’s how its fur looked that was a little unsettling and made me think of the weird things in this book.
An animal jumping out like that looking a bit pet cematary like would scare me too! Sorry this one wasn’t an amazing read for you, I haven’t tried any of her horror stuff yet but I did enjoy Swordheart.
Ikr! It was so weird to see that odd deer.
I might try some of her other work because this was ok. It’s just that the protag really annoyed me.
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This one has been a super mixed bag, it seems. I’m still thinking of reading it, but I’ve definitely seen more than a few “it was ok” reviews
My co-worker who loved it while reading it also thought it was an okay read by the end as well. It is good. It’s just the protag that frustrated me. I would recommend it though.
So sorry you didn’t enjoy this one as much as you’d hoped! I loved it, because I enjoyed the humor and the fine balance with the horror. But I agree the character can be annoying and pretty dumb sometimes, lol.
She was. I think if Mouse had taken things a little more seriously and was less annoying, I wouldn’t have been so frustrated with this book.
I also like the “fine balance with the horror” (I like how you phrased it). It’s very subtle and I like how it slowly grows.
That’s really creepy! 😲
On the other hand, when I read the beginning of your review, I kind of expected a DNF or one-star review, so three doesn’t sound bad 😉 I don’t think this book is for me, though, I don’t like to get frustrated by protagonists whom I should be rooting for! 😉
Ikr! Lol! That deer really freaked me out for a quick minute.
The beginning was good and I probably wouldn’t have minded the rest of it if the protag didn’t annoy me so much.
Yep, I think this one would probably annoy you too.
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Oh my gosh! I can’t believe that happened to you! I probably would have freaked out to see a creature in my yard right after having read this book! (note that I haven’t read this but from how you describe it…yikes!!!)
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Lol! IKR! I was a bit freaked out for a quick minute. Freaked out and curious 🤣 but not curious enough to go outside or anything.