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The Twisted Ones

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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 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. From Hugo Award–winning author Ursula Vernon, writing as T. Kingfisher.


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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 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. From Hugo Award–winning author Ursula Vernon, writing as T. Kingfisher.

30 review for The Twisted Ones

  1. 5 out of 5

    karen

    oooh, goodreads choice awards semifinalist for BEST HORROR 2019! what will happen? i don’t usually dig folk horror—i find it too understated; too quaint and stylized to be entertaining, let alone scary, but this book is refreshingly modern and legit creepy. i wasn’t scared-scared, since whatever part of a person that regulates the ability to be scared by books/movies seems to be broken in me, but i can wholly appreciate effective horror atmosphere, and this is FULL of skin-crawlingly memorable oooh, goodreads choice awards semifinalist for BEST HORROR 2019! what will happen? i don’t usually dig folk horror—i find it too understated; too quaint and stylized to be entertaining, let alone scary, but this book is refreshingly modern and legit creepy. i wasn’t scared-scared, since whatever part of a person that regulates the ability to be scared by books/movies seems to be broken in me, but i can wholly appreciate effective horror atmosphere, and this is FULL of skin-crawlingly memorable images and phrases, and some wonderful surprises. i’ve read several short stories online by t. kingfisher/ursula vernon, but this is my first foray into her full-length work. (‘course, from right here where i sit writing this, i can see no fewer than THREE full-length books of hers i bought ages ago with every intention of reading immediately, and yet have not gotten around to reading, because whatever part of a person regulates the ability to read every book they buy is also broken in me) BUT ANYWAY, i had very high expectations for this based on her short stories, so i was distraught when i missed grabbing an ARC at BEA, arriving mere moments after the copies had been distributed. i’m forever grateful to saga press for alleviating my whimpering grief by sending one my way. ♥ it’s every bit as good as what i’ve already read of hers, showcasing her strong overall sense of storytelling; everything from character, voice, atmosphere, and the frequently-overlooked element of pacing. in horror, pacing is key. oh, and that doggie. having just read a fantastic GOOD BOY dog in The Ten Thousand Doors of January, i was delighted to come upon another one so soon, and i’m not sure if i am more in puppy-love with Bad or Bongo. i do know that 3/4 of the folded-over pages in this book, which indicate my appreciation for a phrase or scene, are bongo-related, so i think he’s pulling ahead, but shhhh, don’t tell bad! Bongo sat up and came over to the window. He licked the screen and seemed puzzled that it tasted like wire. “You’re not smart,” I told him. He wagged his tail and licked the screen again, on the off chance that it had become tasty. i love the narrator’s voice, i love her indulgent/protective relationship with bongo, her deep understanding of his individual character and his breed’s (a redbone coonhound)...idiosyncrasies, and she’s a perfect horror-heroine; neither too open- nor too close-minded, neither too fearless nor too helpless; she’s authentically capable in the face of an unfathomable situation. this also has a hoarding component to it, and is the second horror novel i have read on that theme (after alan ryker's The Hoard) and MAN, is hoarding a situation with unlimited horrific potential. three words: creepy doll room. (shudder) hoarding is an "ordinary horror," and she’s very good at making the mundane seem ominous: In the morning sunlight, it was pretty obvious that the porch had been a dumping ground for old furniture, gardening equipment, and what looked like an ancient grill. All the corners had been filled in with more junk. It was really kind of impressive. She hadn’t just hoarded; she’d made walls and ramparts out of her possessions, like she was expecting a siege. the only complaint i have is that there is an overlong chunk devoted to a found journal that was written very much in the folk horror tradition, which dragged for me because i wanted to get back to the action and the more compelling narratorial voice. exposition-wise, the journal is necessary, but it went on and on and i was not loving it. however, there’s an author’s note at the end that explains what that journal was referencing (and, not being a folk-horror fan, it was something i’d never read, although it is likely a piece collected in ANOTHER unread book i have languishing over here), and she even addresses the specific way she approached the construction of that part, which, even though i was kind of zzz during my reading of the actual part, i found her explanation/inspiration very interesting, indeed. do not skip the author’s note—she is a hoot and a treasure. oh, and the cover does that thing i love, like Your House Is on Fire, Your Children All Gone (which is kind of ALSO folk horror, but i loved it), where there are seeeecret words glossily superimposed on the cover (which you can see in my review here), and i appreciated very much that they bothered to replicate that feature on an ARC. so many reasons not to miss out on this book! ******************************** despite meticulous planning, i somehow missed out on this at BEA, but i'm so glad i swallowed my pride, ignored my already-teetering to-read list and straight-up begged the publisher for it, because it was everything i dreamed it would be. gratitude for now. review to come. come to my blog!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽

    I am NOT generally a fan of horror novels, but I am a fan of T. Kingfisher (aka Ursula Vernon), and that was enough to convince me to give this a try. And it is seriously creepy! If I were more of a horror fan my rating would probably go up. :) This book has a great main character, Melissa or “Mouse,” with an appealing voice and an excellent job. I’m a freelance editor. I turn decent books into decently readable books and hopeless books into hopeless books with better grammar. It’s a living.Mouse I am NOT generally a fan of horror novels, but I am a fan of T. Kingfisher (aka Ursula Vernon), and that was enough to convince me to give this a try. And it is seriously creepy! If I were more of a horror fan my rating would probably go up. :) This book has a great main character, Melissa or “Mouse,” with an appealing voice and an excellent job. I’m a freelance editor. I turn decent books into decently readable books and hopeless books into hopeless books with better grammar. It’s a living.Mouse has a truly wonderful and loyal - if sometimes dimwitted - coonhound dog, Bongo. She’s a single woman whose grandmother has recently passed away, and Mouse has the thankless task of cleaning out her grandparents’ house. It’s even worse than normal, since her grandmother was (a) a horrible person, and (b) a hoarder. But as it turns out, that’s not the worst thing about staying in her grandparents’ house. This story takes the 1904 classic horror novella The White People as its launching point. If you've ever read that story, you really need to read this. If you haven't, you should at least give it a quick skim before jumping into this one (it's free on Project Gutenberg). The Twisted Ones is kind of a modern-day sequel to “The White People.” Full RTC. I received a free copy of this book from the author for review. Thanks so much!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Fran

    In the backwoods of North Carolina stood the house of Melissa's estranged dead grandmother. Melissa aka Mouse, with her Redbone Coonhound "Bongo" in tow, arrived in her pick-up truck to clean out the house as per her father's request. Grandma,"a nasty piece of work" who was "mean as a snake" was a hoarder. The house was a virtual firetrap; storage bins piled "knee high", newspapers "piled in neatly tied stacks", and "a room of dolls, dead dolls with hyper-realistic faces peeking out from behind In the backwoods of North Carolina stood the house of Melissa's estranged dead grandmother. Melissa aka Mouse, with her Redbone Coonhound "Bongo" in tow, arrived in her pick-up truck to clean out the house as per her father's request. Grandma,"a nasty piece of work" who was "mean as a snake" was a hoarder. The house was a virtual firetrap; storage bins piled "knee high", newspapers "piled in neatly tied stacks", and "a room of dolls, dead dolls with hyper-realistic faces peeking out from behind boxes." "One [box] was full of papers... [Mouse] riffled it briefly but no stock certificates fell out. Well, a woman can dream." Frederick Cotgrave, deceased as well, had been married to grandma but occupied his own "nearly empty" room in stark contrast to her hoarding ways. A small black journal on his nightstand piqued Mouse's interest. The writings were bizarre. "Too dangerous to sleep in the woods anymore. They've got my scent now...I made faces like the faces on the rocks...". In Mouse's words,"If Bongo had been scared of the house, I might have left...Bongo thought the place was grand. There were things to sniff." Wrong! Strange occurrences started to mirror Cotgrave's musings. Creepy, harrowing secrets from long ago start to slowly surface. Mouse counted on Bongo for comfort. She befriended Foxy, a tall hippyish woman, who wore a "riot of mismatched color...somehow all pulled together." Ageless Foxy lived on a nearby commune. Tomas, Foxy's housemate, told Mouse to be careful of "things in the woods around here." Writing under the pen name T. Kingfisher, Hugo Award winner Ursula Vernon delivers a frightening, creepy horror novel. "The Twisted Ones" additionally portrays the loving bond between Mouse and her dog "Bongo" and their dependence upon each other to quiet their fears. How will this chilling, roller coaster of fear, anticipation and emotion conclude? An engrossing, nail-biting tome I highly recommend. Thank you Gallery/Saga Press and Net Galley for the opportunity to read and review "The Twisted Ones".

  4. 5 out of 5

    Allison Hurd

    I'm all riled up so though I should be sleeping, here is instead a review. This book is like being handed the script for "I Am Legend" and turning it into "Zombieland." It is based on horror, but it's not horror. It's at best Buffy the Musical. CONTENT WARNING: (usually I say "just a list of topics, no actual spoilers," but these are weird content warnings. They are in and of themselves somewhat spoilers, but it is just a list.) (view spoiler)[ hoarding, trypophobia, dying parent, dolls, loss of I'm all riled up so though I should be sleeping, here is instead a review. This book is like being handed the script for "I Am Legend" and turning it into "Zombieland." It is based on horror, but it's not horror. It's at best Buffy the Musical. CONTENT WARNING: (usually I say "just a list of topics, no actual spoilers," but these are weird content warnings. They are in and of themselves somewhat spoilers, but it is just a list.) (view spoiler)[ hoarding, trypophobia, dying parent, dolls, loss of infant. (hide spoiler)] Things that were promising: -The beginning. I called this book "horror for people with anxiety" and that started out really true. The gimmick used to invest readers is something that is more likely to upset people with certain anxious compulsions or obsessions. If you have those, then a lot of your defenses are removed and things that might be a bit cheesy become scary instead. -Signature wit. Vernon likes her silliness and it's still here! -The pupper. I mean it's got a doggo as one of the main characters. People with animal related fears, let me talk at ya a second. (view spoiler)[The dog lives. (hide spoiler)] Things that really detracted from this story: -The mythos. If you're familiar with Lovecraft and his predecessors, this is a watered down, pale offering. Really frustrated that we tried to explore it more and in so doing robbed it of all of its mystery. -The humor. Every blessed time the tension builds whatsoever, she does like 5 jokes to release it again so you can't ever feel invested. -The plot. I found it absolutely inane. The vast majority of it is watching someone clean out a house, listen to NPR, edit books for work, and make bad jokes about the spooky things that any sane person would have left behind immediately. AND we never fulfill any of the purposes the MC undertakes. -The manuscript. Goddamn this was boring. Reading someone reading someone's remembered account of what they read by someone they never met is as tedious as this sentence. -The end. It's flippity flooping summary fripping ending! FRICK! Like come on! Your MC is an editor! She knows that's tacky! Extra aggravated because I bought this one with real dollars. This is why I don't buy things til I've read them! I'm now 1/3 with this author. I'm not sure who I'd recommend this to...people who like cleaning, dogs, and weird southern accents? Definitely not people with anxiety and a more than passing understanding of the Cthulhu universe.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Racheal

    In my mind I roughly categorize supernatural horror into two main groups: Babadook-style horror and Cabin in the Woods-style horror. Babadook-style horror is the kind that starts out right off the bat with a low-grade, unceasing tension, and it usually follows one or more Very Unhappy People. You see the characters and think- do they really need to go through even more shit? Their lives already kind of suck. But the story often relies at least to some extent on the narrative mystery of "is this In my mind I roughly categorize supernatural horror into two main groups: Babadook-style horror and Cabin in the Woods-style horror. Babadook-style horror is the kind that starts out right off the bat with a low-grade, unceasing tension, and it usually follows one or more Very Unhappy People. You see the characters and think- do they really need to go through even more shit? Their lives already kind of suck. But the story often relies at least to some extent on the narrative mystery of "is this supernatural or is it budding psychosis? Or maybe a metaphor for something else entirely?" It's usually a bit of a downer. Cabin in the Woods-style horror starts out lighter, sunnier, with average folks just living their lives. Once the crap starts hitting the fan, there's not usually much prevarication about whether or not the horror is supernatural. Part of the horror comes in the knowledge that even though these characters are relatively good people, even though they are making ok decisions, this thing is going to wreck their world. It focuses on the huge transition-- we were so happy and normal yesterday and now nothing will ever be the same ever again. The Twisted Ones is definitely the latter, much to my delight! The story centers on a 30-something editor, Mouse, who journeys to rural North Carolina to clean out her estranged grandmother's house at her father's behest. When she gets there she's exasperated to find that her grandmother had been a hoarder, and every room of the house is filled with hangers and newspapers and bags full of bags. Every room, that is, except for her step-grandfather's bedroom, where she finds his creepy diary full of creepy prose that seem to worm their way into her head. Now the first thing I'll say is that the overall tone of the book is lighter for a bigger chunk of the book than I would have expected from looking at the cover. The blurb describes it as "The Blair Witch Project meets The Andy Griffith Show," which I find to be an odd choice for a variety of reasons (has anyone in the target demographic even seen The Andy Griffith Show, for one?), but I think it's trying to give you the idea that the story's not all grimdark horror all the time. Oh don't get me wrong, this is definitely horror. It goes into some deliciously weird directions, and it pays off satisfyingly in the end. But for the first part of the book its appeal is in the narrator, who's one of the most engaging, relatable characters I've read in a while. I loved how irreverent and low-key snarky Mouse is without her voice ever feeling forced or self consciously jokey, and I found the plethora of descriptions about her lovable dumbass of a dog to be super endearing. It also becomes clear pretty quickly that Mouse uses humor and denial to cope with all the weirdness going on. So while I think the bits of humor (especially when paired with the first person past tense, which by definition assures the survival of the narrator), tend to insulate the horror a bit, I do think that it all makes sense for the character. And that's the thing-- everything here makes so much sense. The story does such a great job of gradually building up the creep factor in a really believable way. Every beat of the story happens for a reason, everything that happens feels like a natural extension of what happened before. I love that it never had me screaming over stupid plot or characters decisions and let me just enjoy the ride. And enjoy it I did. Overall I loved the clever writing, engaging narrator, expert plotting, and serious creep factor. Plus, I devoured it in like 24 hours which I haven't done with a non-romance in quite a while, and a weeks later it's still giving me that "oooh yeah, that was good" feeling.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Peter

    What a massive read! Melissa, nicknamed Mouse, is to clear out her grandmother's house. There she comes across the mentioning of a hidden (by her evil grandmother) book , The 'Green Book', owned by her step gradfather Cotgrave. While clearing the house strange things happen. Behind the house she finds a hill with uncanny carved stone and in the manuscript found white people are mentioned. Who are those 'Hollering People' and what is Melissa's role? The story is written as first person narration. What a massive read! Melissa, nicknamed Mouse, is to clear out her grandmother's house. There she comes across the mentioning of a hidden (by her evil grandmother) book , The 'Green Book', owned by her step gradfather Cotgrave. While clearing the house strange things happen. Behind the house she finds a hill with uncanny carved stone and in the manuscript found white people are mentioned. Who are those 'Hollering People' and what is Melissa's role? The story is written as first person narration. You'll read many a line why the storyteller is doing this or that and what she's just thinking. There are also rhetorical questions directed to the reader on a tiring base and stereotypical actions of a dog named Bongo. The story itself is very slow to evolve and very confusing with in-text reading of the 'Green Book' and the exploration of Melissa and Foxy (her neighbour) of the surrounding. I found it a bit tedious and slow in progress. The ingredients would be interesting but the writing was a bit slow winded and a bit plain. I would have expected more horror and a more compelling plot. The White Men refer to Arthur Machen, sure and that is fine but honestly I like Machen's style better. This book is almost a kind of pastiche to Machen. In the end I thought much ado about nothing. Of course the author is a talented writer but this book simply wasn't my cup of tea.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mogsy (MMOGC)

    4.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2019/10/15/... The Twisted Ones was a fun novel featuring the perfect blend of humor and horror, with the first element provided mainly in the form of the main character’s incredibly infectious voice, while the second came via the setting’s creeptastic atmosphere. You’ve got an old house in the middle of the woods, filled with decaying trash and other ghastly things like scary baby dolls. Meanwhile, the locals also know better than to 4.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2019/10/15/... The Twisted Ones was a fun novel featuring the perfect blend of humor and horror, with the first element provided mainly in the form of the main character’s incredibly infectious voice, while the second came via the setting’s creeptastic atmosphere. You’ve got an old house in the middle of the woods, filled with decaying trash and other ghastly things like scary baby dolls. Meanwhile, the locals also know better than to go wandering among the trees, for it is said the laws of reality work differently here, and unwary travelers might suddenly find themselves stumbling through a veil into another world. Not to mention, the woods is home to monsters—strange, grisly creatures made from dead bodies and grinning skulls. But of course, being a newcomer, Mouse was unaware that any of this awaited her as she rolled up to her late grandmother’s house, at the behest of her father who wanted to see if anything could be salvaged from the property. One look, however, was enough to tell Mouse the answer. Dear old granny was a mean, miserable bitch in life (no, seriously, she was a real piece of work), and in her last days, seemed to have become quite the recluse and hoarder as well. The place is filled from top to bottom with useless junk, but being the dutiful daughter, Mouse decides to stick around and help clean it out. Together with her loyal coonhound Bongo, the two get ready to settle in for the long haul. But soon, during her walks in the woods with Bongo, Mouse starts coming across impossible things, like a grassy hill where none was supposed to be, or odd stones carved with unnerving pictures and symbols. And then came the most frightening discovery of all—a gruesome effigy made of animal bone and body parts, hanging from a tree. Mouse knows she shouldn’t let her imagination get away from her, and yet she can’t help but feel the thing might have been alive—watching and waiting. Worse, among her grandmother’s cluttered belongings, Mouse finds an old journal that belonged to her step-grandfather. To anyone else, the old man’s writings would have sounded like the nonsensical ravings of a disturbed mind, but after seeing what she did in the woods, Mouse has reason to believe her step-grandfather must have been terrorized by the same horrors plaguing her now. Be sure not to let the cheery, affable nature and tone of the narrator fool you into thinking this is a light and airy novel, because this one was downright CREEPY. In particular, there was a scene around halfway through that made me regret my decision to read this book after dark, as I ended up having a bit of trouble falling asleep that night, my attention drawn constantly to the window to make sure nothing was peering inside. Anyone who’s read The Twisted Ones will probably know exactly which scene I’m talking about. But let’s back up and talk about how this book captured my attention and love immediately, starting with the first page when readers were introduced to Mouse, a middle-aged editor who just got out of a bad relationship and is in desperate need of a distraction. Right away, you knew this was a strong and independent lady who knew how to take care of herself, and who wouldn’t let a setback stop her for long. In the end though, what I adored most about Mouse, and what made her so relatable, was her easygoing and funny personality, and I lost track of the number of times where she said something that made me burst out laughing. To be sure, finding this balance between fright and fun was the best surprise, and what I loved most about The Twisted Ones. And I guess seeing such a strong, vivacious and easygoing character like Mouse go to pieces with terror at the things she sees in the woods also somehow emphasized the novel’s horror for me. Other aspects I enjoyed include the side characters, like Foxy and Tomas, and of course, who can forget sweet, goofy Bongo, who brought so much bounce and joy and to this story—to the point where I would insist horror fans who are also dog lovers must read this book. In terms of criticisms, I honestly can’t think of much, though I suppose if push comes to shove, I would say the ending might have been a tad on the weaker side due to some disjointedness. Still, as you can probably tell, I had a great time with The Twisted Ones. This was my first experience with Ursula Vernon, who is writing here as T. Kingfisher, but it certainly wouldn’t be my last! Overall, I loved the mix of creepiness and humor, and after a string of horror books that failed to leave much of an impression this October, I’m also relieved and happy to finally read one that didn’t disappoint! Highly recommended if you’re looking for a spine-chilling read this season that’s also tremendously entertaining.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Fiona

    What a way to kick off Spooky Month - The Twisted Ones had me watching over my shoulder when I was reading it at home alone, and I loved every minute. T. Kingfisher - or Ursula Vernon, if that's how you know her - is probably best known for her fairytale retellings or interpretations. This is my first full-length novel of hers, and what an absolute stunner. Folklore being largely an oral tradition has lent the author an incredibly readable "voice" in her writing; and she's not afraid to use that What a way to kick off Spooky Month - The Twisted Ones had me watching over my shoulder when I was reading it at home alone, and I loved every minute. T. Kingfisher - or Ursula Vernon, if that's how you know her - is probably best known for her fairytale retellings or interpretations. This is my first full-length novel of hers, and what an absolute stunner. Folklore being largely an oral tradition has lent the author an incredibly readable "voice" in her writing; and she's not afraid to use that readability against you. The Twisted Ones starts with our protagonist, Melissa/Mouse, and one of the most faithful of trusty sidekicks, her dog Bongo (named for the antelope, not the drum). Her grandmother has passed away, there's a house to clean out, and that's how our heroine finds herself in the woods before it all starts going sideways. It's a slow and subtle decline into oddity - there's a phrase that's repeated throughout that slips between otherwise unrelated sentences, the local radio station is having a pledge drive and the DJ is either sleep deprived or following her own spiral out of known reality, and the borders between known and impossible start to blur for the reader as much as they do for the narrator. The scarier moments, when things go from subtly not quite right to everything wrong and the impossible is right there trying to get inside the house, are scary. The best horror gets under your skin and pops up again when you're home alone or in an unexpectedly dark room, and this book is going to come back to haunt me, I can tell already. But I had a hell of a time reading it, I'd recommend it to anyone even mildly interested in something spooky, and it's really ignited my wish to finally get around to the author's other full-length work. There's not a lot I can say to speak more highly of it than that!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rachel (Kalanadi)

    This was scary and funny and if I hear something tapping on my window at night I will freak out.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sheila

    4 spooky stars. I really enjoyed this one! 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... This is a retelling--or rather, a sequel--to Arthur Machen's 1904 short story, The White People. (You don't need to know anything about the original story to enjoy this novel, though. I hadn't read it when I read this novel--though I did go back and read it later.) The book alternates between dark 4 spooky stars. I really enjoyed this one! 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... This is a retelling--or rather, a sequel--to Arthur Machen's 1904 short story, The White People. (You don't need to know anything about the original story to enjoy this novel, though. I hadn't read it when I read this novel--though I did go back and read it later.) The book alternates between dark fantasy, horror, and weird fiction, with some family drama and comedy thrown in for good measure. What I didn't like about The Twisted Ones: 1st person narration. (Just a personal choice.) What I liked about The Twisted Ones: Everything else. Great writing. Good pacing. Funny in parts, scary in parts. Great characters (I love you Foxy!). A really creepy monster. A simple summary would be that Mouse goes to clean out her deceased grandmother's house, there are some spooky occult happenings, and she ends up crossing over into another world (fairyland, possibly). There are a lot of dark, mysterious powers at work, as well as a lot of family history, that come together in a suspenseful way. Recommended for horror and fantasy fans. I received this review copy from the publisher on NetGalley. Thanks for the opportunity to read and review; I appreciate it!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay

    Mouse and her dog Bongo have come to her recently passed grandmother's house in North Carolina to clear it out and get it ready for sale. It's an enormous job because Mouse's grandmother was a hoarder. All the time in the remote house has Mouse noticing some seriously disturbing things about the woods surrounding the old house. As Mouse investigates, spurred on by a journal from her grandmother's late husband, a mysterious other world begins to intrude. And I twisted myself about like the twisted Mouse and her dog Bongo have come to her recently passed grandmother's house in North Carolina to clear it out and get it ready for sale. It's an enormous job because Mouse's grandmother was a hoarder. All the time in the remote house has Mouse noticing some seriously disturbing things about the woods surrounding the old house. As Mouse investigates, spurred on by a journal from her grandmother's late husband, a mysterious other world begins to intrude. And I twisted myself about like the twisted ones and I lay down flat on the ground like the dead ones.… That particular line is going to stick in my head for a long time, as I assume it's meant to. The creepy vibe works well despite Mouse's irrepressible sense of humour which is used to good effect keeping herself sane in insane circumstances. This author normally does humour well, or at least to my taste, and I was interested to see how well that would work in a horror novel. Turns out, very well. The incidental characters in this are also very well drawn, from little details about the people of the village, to Mouse's neighbours and the terrific Foxy. Even Mouse's step-grandfather Cotgrave is drawn well from his journal. Overall, I think I prefer her fantasy novels, but I'm still glad I read this. This author is firmly in my must-read category.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Elle's Book Blog

    Release Date: October 1, 2019 Genre: Horror/Fantasy Unfortunately, this book just didn't do it for me. I love the MC because she had a great personality and a snarky attitude but I didn't care how the book felt more fantasy than horror. Sure there were a few moments that gave me the chills (especially at the beginning) 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... but those chills didn't Release Date: October 1, 2019 Genre: Horror/Fantasy Unfortunately, this book just didn't do it for me. I love the MC because she had a great personality and a snarky attitude but I didn't care how the book felt more fantasy than horror. Sure there were a few moments that gave me the chills (especially at the beginning) 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... but those chills didn't last. Perhaps I'm asking too much as the story may be targeted better towards those who enjoy fantasy (I do not). Or maybe the book slump I have been in hasn't completely gone away. Either way I just didn't love this one and it was an okay read for me. I think those who can go into the story with an open mind will enjoy this one more. I personally thought it would be a scary horror novel and was surprised it wasn't, but that doesn't mean others won't like it. So take my review with a grain of salt and read it for yourself if the blurb catches your attention.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Latasha

    i added this to my TBR is June of 2019 and went on about my business. when it won a group read in November, i saw that i had marked it as to read and now was the time to read it. i didn't really remember what it was about but that's ok. OMG guys, this book!! I love Mouse and Bongo! i love how she talks to him and how much she cares about that old hound dog. I love Foxy, she's great and i could picture her exactly. The characters in this book were so realistic and easy to care about. The i added this to my TBR is June of 2019 and went on about my business. when it won a group read in November, i saw that i had marked it as to read and now was the time to read it. i didn't really remember what it was about but that's ok. OMG guys, this book!! I love Mouse and Bongo! i love how she talks to him and how much she cares about that old hound dog. I love Foxy, she's great and i could picture her exactly. The characters in this book were so realistic and easy to care about. The setting and the story line is perfect. At first, i was really getting The Yellow Wallpaper vibes from it but oh no honey. it's so not that. there are some really scary as hell scenes in here and if i was reading or listening to this at night, i would have turned it off/set the book down. The mystery as to what is in the woods is easy to figure out but there's more to it than what are they. don't worry, you'll find out when you read this fantastic book. Hillary Huber reads this and she does SO GOOD! i would love to hear more books read by her. This is one of my favorites for 2019.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Juli

    Melissa travels to Pondsboro, NC to clear out her grandmother's house after her death. Her relationship with her grandmother was complicated. The woman was mean, difficult and just....off. Turns out she was a hoarder, too. As she slowly starts to clear out the house, she finds her step-grandfather's diary and notices strange things about the surrounding woods. Weird rock carvings. Disfigured animals. Strange effigies. And the tapping sounds....always the tapping. Melissa -- Mouse to her friends Melissa travels to Pondsboro, NC to clear out her grandmother's house after her death. Her relationship with her grandmother was complicated. The woman was mean, difficult and just....off. Turns out she was a hoarder, too. As she slowly starts to clear out the house, she finds her step-grandfather's diary and notices strange things about the surrounding woods. Weird rock carvings. Disfigured animals. Strange effigies. And the tapping sounds....always the tapping. Melissa -- Mouse to her friends -- and her faithful dog Bongo soon discover there are a lot more things lurking in the trees than just deer. Terrible, horrible things. I live in NC. In fact, my house sits down in a quiet neighborhood with a dense stand of woods right across the road from our house. We live in the middle of town, but deer frequently come through our yard and bound across the street in front of my car. The hills around the small town where we live are covered with tall mountain trees. The forest is beautiful.....but also thick and dark in places. Perfect setting for a horror story. I kept comparing Pondsboro to where I live.....homey, southern people with some weird commune/quirky stuff going on. And.....some real evil crap hiding in the trees. Sucked me right in. To add to the creepy feel, I waited until it was dark outside and sat to read this book on my front porch. Each time Melissa saw something in the woods or Bongo bounded off into the trees, I looked across the road at the tall, dark woods and just let that "I feel like I'm being watched" moment sink in before I continued reading. Perfect! I loved this story! Very creepy vibe and great suspense. The author said it was based a bit on an old horror story from 1904 -- The White People by Arthur Machen. I have never read this story....but I'm definitely going to find a copy! T. Kingfisher is a pen-name for author Ursula Vernon, who writes children's books. While I have never read any of her books for kids, I'm definitely looking forward to more of her books for adults! This story was creepy, entertaining and quite scary in places (especially when I'm reading about the NC woods.....sitting quite close to the NC woods! lol) **I voluntarily read a review copy of this book from Saga Press via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ctgt

    You have to clean out the house of your "mean as a snake" hoarder grandmother whose place just happens to sit in an isolated area right beside a deep forest. What could possibly go wrong? Solid folklore horror. 8/10

  16. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    Kingfisher is a great storyteller and the story moves along drawing you into this, of course, unbelievable world. It's told in a folksy kind of voice which suits the setting of rural North Carolina perfectly. Mouse is an editor who was asked by her Dad to clean out her grandmother's house. When she gets there she realizes her grandmother is a hoarder and stuff is stacked everywhere, blocking doors and stairs and windows. This is going to be a huge job! During the cleanup she finds her Kingfisher is a great storyteller and the story moves along drawing you into this, of course, unbelievable world. It's told in a folksy kind of voice which suits the setting of rural North Carolina perfectly. Mouse is an editor who was asked by her Dad to clean out her grandmother's house. When she gets there she realizes her grandmother is a hoarder and stuff is stacked everywhere, blocking doors and stairs and windows. This is going to be a huge job! During the cleanup she finds her step-grandfather's journal which she thinks is full of nonsense, until some of the things he described start happening around her. This is such a fantastical tale that I never really got scared while reading it, just mostly grossed out by the descriptions of the things that existed.. I liked the folksy nature of Mouse and the practicality of Foxy, and, of course I enjoyed the dog, Bongo the coonhound. This story was inspired by what I understand is a classic horror story called "The White People" which was written in 1904 by Welsh author Arthur Machen - and no, I haven't read that one. Thanks to Saga Press through Netgalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Empress Reece (Hooked on Books)

    4.5 stars - Bone Chillingly Good!... I absolutely loved the originality in this story! It was a nice change of pace from the usual everyday horror tropes. It is somewhat of a slow burner in the beginning as the main character, Mouse, is cleaning out her deceased grandmother's house but, there were plenty of creepy encounters and suspenseful dialogue throughout this process to keep my interest piqued and my mind on full alert. I was actually over here wishing that I could help her sift through 4.5 stars - Bone Chillingly Good!... I absolutely loved the originality in this story! It was a nice change of pace from the usual everyday horror tropes. It is somewhat of a slow burner in the beginning as the main character, Mouse, is cleaning out her deceased grandmother's house but, there were plenty of creepy encounters and suspenseful dialogue throughout this process to keep my interest piqued and my mind on full alert. I was actually over here wishing that I could help her sift through some of that shit a little bit faster so she would finally find that damn "Green Book" that I was dying to read too, by that point. If you're not into a little housekeeping, then stow your bins and put your trash truck in park, till about a quarter of the way in at least, and you'll find that cleaning becomes the last thing on your mind. Between terrifying animated deer bones that clack together like wind chimes as they're stalking around the house at night and twisted looking rocks with enough dark power to seduce you upon just a glance, The Twisted Ones will chill you to the core and make you wish that you kept some of that extra junk around to hide under. *I received this ARC from NetGalley and the publisher, Gallery/ Saga Press, in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Roz

    I know I’m dnf-ing books left and right, but I’m on page 80 and the only thing that happened so far is that the MC is cleaning out her grandmother’s house.. 80 pages of that.. so scary.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lata

    This was creepy. I don't generally read horror, but I like T. Kingfisher's work a lot (both the adult fare and her children's books as Ursula Vernon) so it was a no-brainer that I'd read this book. The story was a nicely eerie, with genuinely frightening parts. I liked the seriously weird, odd and frightening Twisted Ones, and there are scenes when Kingfisher had me thinking I'd take a break from the narrative; what kept me reading was the author's humour. The main character Mouse's narration This was creepy. I don't generally read horror, but I like T. Kingfisher's work a lot (both the adult fare and her children's books as Ursula Vernon) so it was a no-brainer that I'd read this book. The story was a nicely eerie, with genuinely frightening parts. I liked the seriously weird, odd and frightening Twisted Ones, and there are scenes when Kingfisher had me thinking I'd take a break from the narrative; what kept me reading was the author's humour. The main character Mouse's narration was self-deprecating, easygoing and funny, and had me laughing frequently, even during some of the scary parts. And her descriptions of her coonhound Bongo were hilarious. I really liked how Kingfisher balanced the funny and scary, and for this non-horror reader, this was an entertaining read for this time of year.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Woodbury

    3.5 stars. Southern folk horror with a smart, playful protagonist and voice. Mouse has the dreaded job of cleaning out her grandmother's house after her death. No one really liked Grandma all that much. And Grandma was, to Mouse's dismay, a hoarder. As she gets to work cleaning out the house and seeing if it can be salvaged, she stumbles upon some unusual writings from the long-dead second husband of her grandmother that hint at some strange and supernatural things. Mouse doesn't think much of 3.5 stars. Southern folk horror with a smart, playful protagonist and voice. Mouse has the dreaded job of cleaning out her grandmother's house after her death. No one really liked Grandma all that much. And Grandma was, to Mouse's dismay, a hoarder. As she gets to work cleaning out the house and seeing if it can be salvaged, she stumbles upon some unusual writings from the long-dead second husband of her grandmother that hint at some strange and supernatural things. Mouse doesn't think much of it, except that she keeps finding strange things around the house, in the woods, and finds words running through her head over and over again. I usually read in bed at night, often alone in my house. Despite those conditions it's pretty rare that a horror novel creeps me out. But this one did the trick. More than one time I had to put it down after finishing a chapter so that I'd be able to sleep. (Was it worse because the protagonist is a woman alone in a house? Yes, probably.) The visual imagery of horror novels also doesn't always stick in my brain the way it does in tv or movies, but this one got the job done. *shiver* While our protagonist Mouse is usually by herself (except for her manic dog Bongo) the cast of side characters is colorful and brings some needed levity. I think a lot of folks who enjoy the smarmy and warm speculative books that have been popular lately will find that THE TWISTED ONES also falls into that group, though it is the most outright horror of them that I've read. If you are wondering if anything bad happens to the dog: (view spoiler)[the dog is in peril but the dog lives! (hide spoiler)] . Also if you are wondering if the cute goth barista is going to be a love interest: (view spoiler)[she does NOT and I am mad about it, this needed to be a bisexual book. (hide spoiler)] The third act is disappointing in the way that 99% of horror third acts are, but it's not actively bad. But it can't sustain the tension and fear, sadly. Or maybe that's for the best so I could actually finish it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Gabi

    3.5 stars rounded up, because I had such a blast during the first three quarters of the book. The 'hero' team of this novel is one of the most entertaining I've encountered. We have 'Mouse', a mid-thirty freelance editor who only wanted to clear out the house of her dead grandmother, but stumbles into a slowly creeping horror mystery. The story is told from her POV and isn't sparing with self-deprecating insights in a vivid tone (including several times addressing her vet). From the start I liked 3.5 stars rounded up, because I had such a blast during the first three quarters of the book. The 'hero' team of this novel is one of the most entertaining I've encountered. We have 'Mouse', a mid-thirty freelance editor who only wanted to clear out the house of her dead grandmother, but stumbles into a slowly creeping horror mystery. The story is told from her POV and isn't sparing with self-deprecating insights in a vivid tone (including several times addressing her vet). From the start I liked this character and was enthusiastic to follow her along. Then there is Bongo (named after the antilope, not the musical instrument) a coonhound who is a horrible watchdog, but always there to get petted. He is bravely at Mouse's side and eager to take cover behind her legs if the going gets tough. And last but not least there is Foxy (spelling? I listened to the audiobook), in her 60ies or 70ies, colourfully clad with fishnetstockings, high heels and always a cool head. A terrific friend and character. The more I read about her the more I wished I had a friend like her in my life. Those three try to get to the bottom of the mysteries that involve strange sightings around the house and a hidden journal. The story starts slowly, the horror creeps bit by bit into the consciousness of the narrator and the reader, at first only witnessed through Bongo's behaviour. In the last part it turns into a fast paced, more physical, horror. I admit I preferred the slow beginning. The story itself didn't feel especially inventive. But I have seldom read a horror story with such a likeable cast. The prose is delightfully lively and the characters are handled masterfully. I took all of them into my heart right from the start. The interaction between humans and the dog were wonderful to witness. My new preferred maincharacter duo is definitely a female protagonist and her dog. It was heart-warming to read Mouse's thoughts about her Bongo. So, even though it is a horror novel, it turned out to be quite a comfort reading for me. I was glad to be with those nuts and enjoyed the pleasant feeling of goosebumps. This was my first book by T. Kingfisher and I love her writing. I have to look up more. I listened to it as audiobook. Hillary Huber did a wonderful job with the narration.

  22. 5 out of 5

    ☾ h a d e e r ☽

    This book is nightmare fuel. The premise is so simple - woman clears out grandmother's house and discovers weird shit - but it somehow managed to be one of the more compelling, entertaining, and unsettling books I've read all year. The narrator of this book is one of the best things about it; she's got a very witty monologue going on that turned what could have been a dreadfully boring book into a delight. Because here's the thing, this book is slow. It ratchets up the tension slowly, and for a This book is nightmare fuel. The premise is so simple - woman clears out grandmother's house and discovers weird shit - but it somehow managed to be one of the more compelling, entertaining, and unsettling books I've read all year. The narrator of this book is one of the best things about it; she's got a very witty monologue going on that turned what could have been a dreadfully boring book into a delight. Because here's the thing, this book is slow. It ratchets up the tension slowly, and for a while, not very much happened, but it didn't matter, because Mouse's narration was so entertaining I didn't care about anything else. This was a genuinely scary book. I have never been scared by a book before, but this one did it. I can feel parts of it still lingering in the dark corners of my mind, waiting to peek out when I'm trying to sleep. Apparently, The Twisted Ones is based off a short story called "The White People" by Arthur Machen, and Kingfisher does such a fantastic job adapting it here, and expanding the mythology of it all (also, if you're anything like me and you google Machen, be prepared to go down a Wikipedia rabbit hole of horror novelists and occult societies, it's weird shit). I finished this book on October 31st. I shut off all my lights, opened my windows because the wind was moaning especially loudly, and huddled with my Kindle. It was an exquisite experience.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Carrie (brightbeautifulthings)

    I received a free e-ARC through NetGalley from the publishers at Saga Press. Trigger warnings: death, animal death, gore, blood, violence, rape (implied), abduction, guns, fires. When Mouse agrees to clean out her dead grandmother’s house in rural North Carolina, she has no idea how bad it is. Her grandmother was a borderline hoarder, and the house will take weeks to clear out on her own, with no internet, a sketchy cell phone signal, and no close neighbors other than a nearby hippie commune. She I received a free e-ARC through NetGalley from the publishers at Saga Press. Trigger warnings: death, animal death, gore, blood, violence, rape (implied), abduction, guns, fires. When Mouse agrees to clean out her dead grandmother’s house in rural North Carolina, she has no idea how bad it is. Her grandmother was a borderline hoarder, and the house will take weeks to clear out on her own, with no internet, a sketchy cell phone signal, and no close neighbors other than a nearby hippie commune. She stumbles on the diary of her step-grandfather, Cotgrave, who, by the end of his life, had descended into paranoia and dementia. He’s convinced that the woods are haunted by creepy beings called the twisted ones. When Mouse discovers a hill that couldn’t possibly exist covered in unsettling rock carvings, she fears he may have been right. This is a solid horror novel with Wicker Man vibes, but with better plotting and a main character you can actually pull for. (I’m not a fan of The Wicker Man, so take that with whatever grain of salt necessary. “It was a cult!” is my least favorite plot twist after “It was aliens!”) Mouse is fairly average, and that’s what I like about her. She reacts realistically to pretty much every horrifying situation, and most of the time it’s luck more than cleverness that saves her life. Her eye for editing is also a fun detail, and her devotion to her dog, Bongo, is probably her defining feature. Bongo is the second most well-developed character, and I learned more about coonhounds than I ever could have imagined. It’s a little too much sometimes, but I was just complaining in my review of Violet that women in horror novels don’t have enough protective instincts for their children. If they had half the protectiveness for their kids that Mouse has for her dog, they’d be in good shape. I approve. I also enjoyed Foxy, the aging, sassy hippie. The writing leaves something to be desired. It’s consistent with Mouse’s first-person perspective, but it’s a little more casual than I like in my novels. There’s too much of her inner thought process, which is scattered and full of questions and hindsight reflections, and not enough narrative. That’s more personal preference than anything though, and it has the benefit of putting us completely inside her head. The pace is overall good, and the only time it lags a bit is in the middle when Mouse is reading her grandfather’s manuscript. It doesn’t add a lot to the plot that couldn’t have been better streamlined and summarized, but the author’s note adds some interesting insight into why it’s included. The best part of this book, of course, is that it’s genuinely creepy. The first half effectively builds atmosphere with the discovery of the rocks, but it’s really the stick and animal monsters that steal the show. (Major Here There Are Monsters vibes, if that’s your thing.) Kingfisher has a knack for capturing the uncanniness of her creatures and, for once, that doesn’t fade the more we see of them. 10/10 would not want to see one outside my window at night. As always, I find the answers to questions less interesting than the questions themselves, so the ending doesn’t quite live up to the suspense. It’s somehow just …less than I expected. However, I appreciate that Kingfisher resists falsely invoking Native American mythology to explain her horrors. It’s one of the more creepy and original horror novels I’ve read lately, recommended for people who are bored with the usual slash/hack thrillers or the typical vampire/zombie/werewolf/etc paranormal horror. It’s different; I’ve never read anything else quite like it. I review regularly at brightbeautifulthings.tumblr.com.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kelli

    Closer to 2.75 stars. This book started out interesting, and the main character is pretty funny. Unfortunately it went downhill quickly, after the halfway mark. It became "silly" scary and not in a good way. I want to say this is more of a creepy read than a horror read. I laughed more than I felt frightened. If you're looking for a good scare I wouldn't recommend this one.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Stormi (BMReviewsohmy)

    I really wanted to love The Twisted Ones but I have to admit that I struggled a bit with this one. When Mouse’s dad asked her to clean out her grandmother’s house she never imagined the problems she would encounter. First, her grandmother was a hoarder and the place was a horrible mess. Second, there is something spooky in the woods. While Mouse is cleaning her grandmother’s house she finds her stepgrandfather’s journal and it sounds like the rambling of an old man who may have been be on the I really wanted to love The Twisted Ones but I have to admit that I struggled a bit with this one. 🙁 When Mouse’s dad asked her to clean out her grandmother’s house she never imagined the problems she would encounter. First, her grandmother was a hoarder and the place was a horrible mess. Second, there is something spooky in the woods. While Mouse is cleaning her grandmother’s house she finds her stepgrandfather’s journal and it sounds like the rambling of an old man who may have been be on the verge of dementia or something. She gets wrapped up in what he is saying about the woods and them and about a green book and how much his wife (her grandmother) was mean to the poor guy. Her father offered to just have the place bulldozed down but Mouse wanted to find the green book or a manuscript he said he wrote. So she decides to stay which was her first mistake. Her dog Bongo is a coonhound and he likes to go for long walks and one day they go into the woods and end up in a weird place where she recognizes some of the things Cotgrave had been talking about. She finds something out there that freaks her out but when a cop goes to try and find it he doesn’t see anything, she somewhat wonders if she is going crazy till she sees something in the window that freaks her out. She is ready to leave by then but her dog gets away and runs off and so she can’t go and then she finds the old man’s manuscript. I won’t say any more but let me tell you she should have just let her dad bulldoze the place down! I am going to start with the fact that I can see why a lot of people might like this one and if you like a more atmospheric slow horror then this will appeal more to you than me. I on the other hand was a bit bored with most of it as nothing cool happened till probably the last 30% of the book. It didn’t scare me but I can see others thinking it creepy. I didn’t like nor dislike Mouse, she was just a pretty ordinary character. I can see why she would be curious about the things in the journal and manuscript but ones this one part happened I would have just left and not looked back and felt she was a bit dumb for going in the woods after she knew it wasn’t a good idea. I just loved Bongo her dog! I will have to say my favorite character was Mouse’s neighbor Foxy, she cracked me up! “You don’t let your neighbors get et by monsters alone…” That quote sums up my love of Foxy! She had some pretty funny comments and was brave or dumb enough to go with Mouse into the woods. This book was 400 pages and I think it could have been cut down at least 50 pages and been a much better and maybe not so slow of a book. Seriously who wants to read page after page about Mouse cleaning out her grandmothers horrible house?? Not me. I liked the parts with the manuscript but I don’t think I needed to read the whole thing. I think we could have just been given parts of it and then let Mouse do what she was going to do and get her thoughts on the pages. To me that was what really dragged the book and I also thought the ending was a bit long. So I didn’t hate it but I just didn’t love this one as much as I had hoped but I do think others will like it more than I did. I would definitely try the author again.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Brianne Reeves

    Shivers. Blankets over head creepy

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    Insanely, effectively creepy. 4 solid, scary stars!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    3.5 stars really creepy fast paced horror read.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Unabridged Bibliophile

    Solid 4 stars. Creeped the hell out of me until around the 3/4 mark.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    3.5* rounded to 4* I was looking for a creepy Halloween read and this one totally fit the bill. A cast of interesting characters, including a dog. And, some really eerie goings-on. I actually had to set the book down one night because I was getting so creeped out. A fun spooky read, especially during Halloween season.

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