This is my third attempt at a T Kingfisher novel: I first tried reading The Hollow Places. I DNF’d that one because I was at the 50% mark and very little had happened. The Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking, on the other hand, was a hit for me. I like her writing well enough, and that ultimately led me to pick up The Twisted Ones.
The book is marketed as a horror novel, but it feels like a portal fantasy tale. We follow Melissa (aka Mouse) as she and her dog Bongo travel to rural North Carolina. Their mission: clean out the house of Mouse’s dead grandmother (who is also a hoarder). This dead grandmother was apparently a real piece of work, and no one is really sad about her passing. As Mouse clears the house, she starts having strange encounters in the woods behind the house. She also happens upon the journal of her step-grandpa, Cotgrave, who died under mysterious circumstances. As time goes along, something begins tapping on her window at night.
The Twisted Ones is slow. That isn’t really a bad thing, but I did have to prepare myself for nothing really happening over the course of the novel. The book is mostly exposition, the plot an afterthought. In between the main character reading a diary and then a typewritten manuscript, there are scenes of cleaning a hoarder house, mysterious banging on the door, and visiting a coffee shop. Nothing of actual consequence happens until we’re 75% of the way through the novel.
This novel was written well, and it had some humor that I enjoyed, but with the over-explanation of the narrator’s thoughts coupled with the repetition of the exposition, it really was a chore to stay focused. Unfortunately, this novel has soured me on any of T Kingfisher’s adult work. I’m a reader who likes exposition and infodumps, and don’t mind being told rather than shown sometimes, but I do have my limits. Kingfisher was more concerned with the lore of the Twisted Ones than with advancing an exciting or scary plot. By the end of the book, I no longer cared what the explanation was. This is not a horror novel; it’s not even a “quiet horror” novel. It’s a fantasy novel trying to be horrifying.
Final Rating: 5/10
The Twisted Ones was published in 2019 by Gallery / Saga Press
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