Dallas' Book Report: The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher (2019)
The Twisted ones is less of a knock-your-socks-off tale of horror and more of a traditional, things-that-go-bump-in-the-night flashlight story. The writing is charming, the characters; relatable, and when there are scares, the book does what it sets out to do. Maybe I am too jaded, being fed a steady diet of splatterpunk gore fests and terrifying body horror books. Still, The Twisted Ones left me feeling a little limp.
The story begins with Melissa, also known as Mouse, who leaves Pittsburgh and moves to North Carolina for a week to clean out her deceased grandmother's home. Her grandmother was a narcissistic, vindictive, capricious, cold-hearted, and calculating woman. And to make matters worse, Mouse has to clean the entire house, which has fallen victim to her hoarding ways. Upon going through her cleaning duties, Mouse finds notes from her long-suffering grandfather replete with information about a 'green-book' and his experience with “The Twisted Ones.” Dark family secrets abound.
The charming thing about this book is the character interaction, especially in regards to Mouse and her dog, Bongo. I have never been a dog owner, but I know the bond between owner and dog is a special one, and the book exudes the power of this relationship in a delightful way. This is a spoiler-free review, but I will say for the duration of the book, the dog remains alive and well, so you may now breathe a sigh of relief.
As for the other characters of this story, some shine more than others. But all pull their own weight—for the most part. The one who I became enamored with the most was Foxy, the middle-aged, flashy dressing, wise woman of the story who guides Mouse and her compatriots through this mysterious journey. I have always had a soft spot for female characters like Foxy: Down to earth, usually older, and still find the right thing to say in about any sticky situation. Characters like her always remind me of some of the middle-aged women I grew up with. Surrogate mothers who had wisdom on their lips, a cigarette in one hand, and a plate of cookies in the other. Foxy exudes those qualities to a tee, and I loved her because of it.
As for the others, Tomas—the cautious, strongman worker of the group—seemed like an amiable guy. And—whatever his name was—the silent and older gentleman who left no impact.
As for the main lead, Melissa? In all honesty, she is a middle of the road protagonist. Neither spectacular nor bland, she does exactly what you would expect from a story like this. Other characters, her dog, and the atmosphere around her is what makes The Twisted Ones a worthwhile read.
Speaking of atmosphere, it is the mixed blessing of this book. When T. Kingfisher wants to spook the reader, she does so well. The entire first half, the mystery of the 'Green-book' and 'The Twisted Ones' is built up to a terse and unsettling degree. Akin to a rubber band of anticipation that can snap at any moment. Unfortunately, the ultimate unveiling towards the last third of The Twisted Ones does not do the preliminary build-up, justice. The revelation felt slapdash and unearned to a degree, lacking the creep factor of the beginning.
Long story short, is The Twisted Ones a worthwhile read? Yes, but if you are looking for terror—look elsewhere. If you want a creepy campfire story. Give it a read.