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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. 4 out of 5

    Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽

    The Twisted Ones is a modern twist on an old horror classic! Final review, first posted on Fantasy Literature: The Twisted Ones begins with mild consternation: Melissa, who goes by “Mouse,” has the thankless task of taking a trip to backwoods North Carolina, with her loyal redbone coonhound Bongo for company, to clean out her late grandmother’s home. “It’ll be a mess,” her father says, in a massive understatement. Consternation shifts to deep dismay: Grandma was a hoarder. It’s even worse than The Twisted Ones is a modern twist on an old horror classic! Final review, first posted on Fantasy Literature: The Twisted Ones begins with mild consternation: Melissa, who goes by “Mouse,” has the thankless task of taking a trip to backwoods North Carolina, with her loyal redbone coonhound Bongo for company, to clean out her late grandmother’s home. “It’ll be a mess,” her father says, in a massive understatement. Consternation shifts to deep dismay: Grandma was a hoarder. It’s even worse than normal, since her grandmother was a cruel and vicious person, and something of her evil still infuses her house, like the room full of baby dolls that looks like a “monument to infanticide.” Luckily, Mouse finds one bedroom that is clear of clutter, the bedroom of her step-grandfather Cotgrave, who died many years earlier. (If you’ve read Arthur Machen’s 1904 classic horror novelette “The White People,” you should recognize the name Cotgrave here. It’s no coincidence.) Mouse moves into Cotgrave’s bedroom for the duration, while she works on cleaning out the house so it can be sold. In Cotgrave’s nightstand she finds his handwritten journal. In his journal Cotgrave was fretting over a lost green book that he’d obtained from a man named Ambrose. He was also troubled by a phrase that was stuck in his head, like a song that will never stop replaying: 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. In fact, once Mouse reads this sentence in the journal, she has a hard time getting it out of her head herself. But as it turns out, the hoarding and the creepy journal aren’t the worst things about staying in her grandparents’ house. There are things in the woods surrounding the house, and they may not just stay in the woods. Mouse’s dismay at her situation evolves into terror. The Twisted Ones is an inventive horror novel that takes “The White People” as its launching point and creates a modern-day sequel to it. Kingfisher takes Machen’s story in a different direction that I’m morally certain never occurred to him, but that I’m confident he would have appreciated. The Twisted Ones contains a more folkloric type of horror than its source material, and it’s lightened by the appealing voice and wry humor of Mouse, who narrates the story. Her job as a freelance editor informs many of her opinions about Cotgrave’s writing, almost distracting her from the journal’s deeper import. Another source of both comfort and comic relief is Mouse’s hound Bongo. He’s a dedicated companion, loyal and loving, even if dimwitted at times, and he has an excellent nose.I had the impression that he was thinking very hard about something (or more accurately, that his nose was thinking very hard about something. Bongo’s nose is far more intelligent than the rest of him, and I believe it uses his brain primarily as a counterweight).These moments of lightness balance the chilling horror, which creeps up on the reader as much as it does Mouse. I read the last ten percent with my heart in my throat. The most difficult section of “The White People” is the lengthy and hallucinatory quoting of the Green Book; The Twisted Ones has a counterpart to this tale-within-a-tale approach as Mouse dives more deeply into dissecting Cotgrave’s journal. It felt a little lengthy and difficult to unpack, though it’s not nearly as difficult to wade through as the Green Book, and after re-familiarizing myself with “The White People,” this section became much more interesting and readable. If you’ve ever read “The White People,” The Twisted Ones is a must-read. If you haven’t, I’d recommend giving “The White People” at least a quick skim (it’s freely available online) before jumping into this novel. It’s well worth your time for any fan of the horror genre … and even for readers who — like me — aren’t normally into horror novels. I decided to give it a try because T. Kingfisher (a pseudonym of Ursula Vernon) is a fantastic author with a talent for making fairy tales and other old things new again. It was an excellent decision. I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher for review. Thanks so much!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin

    Oh I loved this book!! I was lucky enough to get it from our tiny library but I’m going to get myself a physical copy!! Thanks to my horror group or I might have missed it! Mel Oh I loved this book!! I was lucky enough to get it from our tiny library but I’m going to get myself a physical copy!! Thanks to my horror group or I might have missed it! Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾

  4. 4 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".

  5. 4 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.

  6. 4 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.

  7. 5 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.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Char

    3.5/5* (Rounded up to 4 for Goodreads.) THE TWISTED ONES was a nice take on folklore and an homage, (or is it a sequel?) to Arthur Machen's THE WHITE PEOPLE. I loved the narrators of the story, (both the protagonist and the narrator of the audiobook), which went a long way towards my enjoyment. I think if I had read this, instead of listening, the repetition of certain phrases and certain behaviors regarding the protagonist and her dog would have gotten on my nerves a lot more. I enjoyed THE 3.5/5* (Rounded up to 4 for Goodreads.) THE TWISTED ONES was a nice take on folklore and an homage, (or is it a sequel?) to Arthur Machen's THE WHITE PEOPLE. I loved the narrators of the story, (both the protagonist and the narrator of the audiobook), which went a long way towards my enjoyment. I think if I had read this, instead of listening, the repetition of certain phrases and certain behaviors regarding the protagonist and her dog would have gotten on my nerves a lot more. I enjoyed THE TWISTED ONES mostly for the characters, I think, especially Foxy. She cracked me the hell up-maybe because I know people just like her? Full of surprises, sometimes vulgar, but always down to earth and willing to help. Overall, I'm glad I joined the group read with the LADIES OF HORROR FICTION group here on Goodreads. I enjoyed chatting with them while we were reading. Recommended! *I bought this audiobook with my hard earned cash and this is my honest review.*

  9. 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.

  10. 5 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!

  11. 5 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.

  12. 5 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

    destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]

    I didn't realize how much I needed more folk horror in my life until reading this, but wow. This was so enjoyable, though the ending did go off the rails for me a bit (enough to knock this down to a 4-star rating, but it's still a VERY HIGH 4 stars, maybe even closer to 4.5!). Full review coming soon, but I highly recommend this one! update: Screw it. I've been thinking about this book all damn day. 5 stars.

  14. 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!

  15. 5 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.

  16. 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.**

  17. 5 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Wolf

    Rounding up from 3.5 stars. The set-up of The Twisted Ones hooked me from the start. Freelance editor Mouse heads off to her dead grandmother’s isolated home to prepare it for sale, but upon arrival, discovers it’s stuffed to the rafters with newspapers, coat hangers, clothing, and all sorts of useless junk. If it were me, I probably would have made a run for it at soon as I pushed open the front door and saw the mess waiting inside, but Mouse decides to stick it out. After all, she can work Rounding up from 3.5 stars. The set-up of The Twisted Ones hooked me from the start. Freelance editor Mouse heads off to her dead grandmother’s isolated home to prepare it for sale, but upon arrival, discovers it’s stuffed to the rafters with newspapers, coat hangers, clothing, and all sorts of useless junk. If it were me, I probably would have made a run for it at soon as I pushed open the front door and saw the mess waiting inside, but Mouse decides to stick it out. After all, she can work anywhere, and her father has offered to split the sale proceeds with her when it’s all done. Accompanied by her beloved but not entirely bright coonhound Bongo, Mouse gets to work. When she discovers an old journal kept by her long deceased stepgrandfather, things get weird. Mouse was well aware that her grandmother was a hateful, mean woman who was universally despised, but through the diary, she learns even more about her cruelty. What’s more, she also sees hints of madness or dementia through her grandfather’s writings, particularly through his repetition of lines that seem to have become a sort of mantra for him: 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… When Mouse and Bongo accidentally find an impossible hilltop through the woods in the backyard — when there aren’t actually any such hills in the area — things get weirder. Strangely carved stones and menacing trees are clear indications that things are not normal. As Mouse encounters more and more oddities, the woods near her grandmother’s house and the things they contain become even more menacing. This was a terrifically creepy read. One ray of sunshine to note up front: As my friend who recommended this book pointed out, Mouse opens the first chapter with Bongo by her side as she looks back on the events she’s about to describe. So, for those who might enter in fear of something awful happening to a very good dog, rest assured, Bongo will be fine! Somehow, this seems important to know from the get-go. I really enjoyed Mouse’s narrative voice. She’s plainspoken, but not without a sense of humor. As she recounts the events that occurred, she recognizes that most people would assume she’s lost touch with reality, but she feel compelled to tell the story anyway. I am going to try to start at the beginning, even though I know you won’t believe me. It’s okay. I wouldn’t believe me either. Everything I have to say sounds completely barking mad. I’ve run it through my mind over and over, trying to find a way to turn it around so that it all sounds quite normal and sensible, and of course there isn’t one. As the story progresses, I found myself telling Mouse to get in her truck and drive away as quickly as possible, which really would have been the smart thing to do. When she finally decides to do just that, there’s a very good reason why she doesn’t, and the big showdown at the end practically begs to be made into a horror movie (that is sure to keep viewers from ever getting a good night’s sleep again, especially if they’re attempting to sleep in a cabin in the woods). Something about the answers to the book’s mysteries didn’t quite feel as monumental to me as I expected, which is why I only went with 3.5 stars. Still, it’s a terrific, engrossing read that provides plenty of creepy, scary atmosphere and plenty of reason to be afraid of the woods, the dark, the woods in the dark, and anything that comes tapping at your door.

  20. 5 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

  21. 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!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Renee Godding

    4/5 stars “Everybody yells at Orpheus and Lot's wife. Put yourself in their shoes for five minutes and you'd yell a lot less, I promise you.” It’s only thanks to the Goodreads Choice Awards that this book came to my attention, because for some reason it’s been flying under my radar since its release. Without any expectations, just hoping to have an enjoyable time, I went into this one blind. After I’d finished, despite having read 3 of its competitors in the final rounds, I had to change my vote 4/5 stars “Everybody yells at Orpheus and Lot's wife. Put yourself in their shoes for five minutes and you'd yell a lot less, I promise you.” It’s only thanks to the Goodreads Choice Awards that this book came to my attention, because for some reason it’s been flying under my radar since its release. Without any expectations, just hoping to have an enjoyable time, I went into this one blind. After I’d finished, despite having read 3 of its competitors in the final rounds, I had to change my vote for the Best Horror novel in the Goodreads Choice Awards: this was the most fun I had with any of them. The Twisted Ones follows Mouse, a young woman tasked with clearing out her deceased and estranged grandmothers rural house in the remote forest. To her horror, she discovers that grandma had been a hoarder for years before she died, and this project might turn out far harder than expected. What captures her attention however, are mysterious writings from her grandfather she discovers among the rubbish. Writing that hint at something awful nearby. Mouse and her loyal dog Bongo end up with more than they bargained for, as the woods slowly reveal their secrets to them. Blair Witch, 2019…? It’s increasingly hard to be original when it comes to creative expression, writing, and especially horror. With a market as saturated as this one, we’ve seen all the tropes before, whether it be in a horror classic novel by Edgar Allen Poe, or a random creepypasta you found on reddits nosleep page. Fifteen-year-old me visited the latter frequently, which let older-me to be burned out on horror for a long time. There is only so many times you can read a Blair-witch rip-off, or mysterious faceless creature that somehow loves to “smile” at the protagonist before it becomes annoying, rather than scary. Predictability kills suspense, and for me, the success of a horror novel largely depends on its originality and ability to surprise me. The Twisted Ones succeeded in that in one aspect, yet failed in another. Let’s just get the big word out: this was a bit too much Blair Witch 2019 for me. Effigies in the trees, hits at witchcraft and paranormal entities in the forest… It’s quite the familiar set up. Despite that, The Twisted Ones maintains its atmosphere and suspense well throughout the story. Even though I had some idea where the story was going, I still wanted to continue to find out. On top of that, I also enjoy the ending as, unlike the Blair Witch, it isn’t too ambiguous and actual answers are provided. The Mouse, the Dog and the Creatures in the Woods The main reason that I kept wanting to continue was my attachment to the characters. Melissa aka Mouse is exactly how I like my horror-protagonists: she’s smart, snarky, realistic and actually has the one and only relatable motive for running into a creepy-crawly-infested forest: saving her dog. Her narrative tone brings a touch of lightless and snark to the darker themes of the story and actually made me grin at times with the way certain situations are described. It’s the type of gallows humour where a character in a desperate situation pokes fun of the bizarreness of it all, and I’m here for it. Speaking of the dog: Bongo is a main character of his own, and thanks to the descriptions of our protagonist we actually get an impression of the kind of dog he is, and the relationship his owner has with him. I love reading about animals like this, and the element of a dog in danger added enough suspense for me to be on the edge of my seat until the end. Both the character and Kingfishers narrative voice made this novel very enjoyable, and an easy 4- to 4.5 star read for me. I do feel I have to subtract some points for a lack of originality in the storyline, so I’m settling with a 4-star rating. The Twisted Ones is a deserving finalist in the Goodreads Choice Awards, and in my opinion, would even deserve to win. I can recommend this book to anyone who likes horror, and is okay with putting up with a familiar story, as long as it’s told by a phenomenal voice and great characters.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Frank Phillips

    I noticed this book was on the 2019 Goodreads Best Horror list, so immediately sought it out in audio format, anxiously waiting for it to arrive from my library. When it FINALLY arrived last week I was thrilled beyond words and immediately started listening. I enjoyed this horror novel for the most part, however, the actual 'monster' in this one was a little too far-fetched IMO (and a little silly to be honest) and so that took away from the creepy factor I was hoping for, bringing this to 3 I noticed this book was on the 2019 Goodreads Best Horror list, so immediately sought it out in audio format, anxiously waiting for it to arrive from my library. When it FINALLY arrived last week I was thrilled beyond words and immediately started listening. I enjoyed this horror novel for the most part, however, the actual 'monster' in this one was a little too far-fetched IMO (and a little silly to be honest) and so that took away from the creepy factor I was hoping for, bringing this to 3 Stars. The characters were great, and I found myself really enjoying Foxy, even more so than our main protagonist, Mouse. This read really fast, and got right to the point without very much build up, which I appreciated. I wasn't overly impressed with the ending, thinking it could have been a little bit 'more' somehow. All in all its a solid 3 Star and could also be categorized as YA horror, IMO. If you're looking for horror that isn't too frightening, but will keep you interested throughout, this is the book for you!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mel

    #LadiesFirst20, #LOHF group read I read this one in one sitting. This made the best reads pile. It was so creepy and good. I really enjoyed it. Well written and fun.

  25. 5 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.

  26. 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.

  27. 4 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.

  28. 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.

  29. 5 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.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Chandra Claypool (wherethereadergrows)

    This is one of those books that I was wondering how I was going to feel within the first 50 pages. This reads as Mouse's writing of her experiences while cleaning out the hoarding house of her late stepgrandmother. It starts off a bit slow as she gets there, tries to get settled and realizes just what kind of task she's actually in for. We get to meet some of the tertiary characters and it sets the mood for the rest of the read. My favorite character by far is Foxy... and Bongo (the first an This is one of those books that I was wondering how I was going to feel within the first 50 pages. This reads as Mouse's writing of her experiences while cleaning out the hoarding house of her late stepgrandmother. It starts off a bit slow as she gets there, tries to get settled and realizes just what kind of task she's actually in for. We get to meet some of the tertiary characters and it sets the mood for the rest of the read. My favorite character by far is Foxy... and Bongo (the first an eccentric older lady who lives nearby and the latter Mouse's dog). They bring a lot of levity to the book that I actually thoroughly enjoyed. Tok - tok - tok - tok... then it starts to get REALLY interesting. Look, I'm gonna be completely honest with you, the synopsis is creepier than the book itself. While there are some great visual parts to the read, it (to me) wasn't really scary or creepy in the slightest. I think I was expecting more in that category but THEN, I remember that it is described as a cross between The Blair Witch and The Andy Griffith Show. Okie dokie. Expectations changed and YES! The story definitely takes some turns I wasn't expecting and for that I give lots of credit to the author for surprising me. If you enjoy folklore/pagan-ish type reads that are a bit on the lighter side, I think you'll really enjoy this story. And do take a moment to read the Author's Note and maybe read a little more on where some of the story comes from.

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