Published by Hot Key Books on September 27, 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Horror, Young Adult, Paranormal, Mythology
Source: I Bought It
Reading Challenges: Beat the Backlist 2019, Monthly Motif 2019, Retellings 2019
Part ghost story, part Nordic thriller - this is a twisty, tense and spooky YA debut, perfect for fans of CORALINE and Michelle Paver.
Martha can tell things about a person just by touching their clothes, as if their emotions and memories have been absorbed into the material. It started the day she fell from the tree at her grandma's cabin and became blind in one eye.
Determined to understand her strange ability, Martha sets off to visit her grandmother, Mormor - only to discover Mormor is dead, a peculiar boy is in her cabin and a terrifying creature is on the loose.
Then the spinning wheel starts creaking, books move around and terror creeps in...
Set in the remote snows of contemporary Norway, THE TWISTED TREE is a ghost story that twists and turns - and never takes you quite where you'd expect.
I admit, the very first thing that drew this book to me was the gloriously creepy cover. However, the synopsis also had me pretty much convinced too! Any book about Norse mythology is always going to catch my attention. The fact that it set in a modern setting is just icing on the cake!
my review of the twisted tree
The story is about a young girl called Martha who is eager to visit her grandmother after an accident leaves her with the uncanny ability to read emotions and thoughts from people’s clothing. Scared, and without any idea to cope with this newfound ability, Martha travels back to the scene of her accident in Norway to seek out her beloved ‘mormor’ and confront the truth about what happened the day that she lost sight in one eye after tumbling from the old twisted tree on the property.
However, upon arrival at her grandmother’s cabin, Martha discovers a young runaway called Stig living there instead; who gives her the awful news that her grandmother has died suddenly the week before her arrival. Stig, hearing of this, had made the decision to hide himself away in the cabin.
Although Martha is initially angry and grief-stricken, she eventually concedes that Stig has nowhere else to go and given the freezing conditions, would surely freeze to death if turned away. Along with Gandalf, her grandmother’s loyal hound, the two youngsters settle into a routine of sorts.
Martha looks through her grandmother’s possessions, hoping to find some kind of clue that can give her answers. However, the truth is more terrifying than she could ever have imagined. Something terrible has been unleashed and it is after blood…
This is a very short read but it is incredibly suspenseful and well-paced. The horror elements are indeed frightening – and the book isn’t afraid to get gory at times! The scariest part though is the build-up – you know that something awful is coming and it’s hard knowing this and seeing the protagonists initially be ignorant of this.
The suspense is built very slowly and steadily but when it does finally get going it definitely delivers. Some parts were seriously creepy – it reminded me a lot of some of the horror novels I read when I was younger.
The Norse mythology element was very well incorporated too. I was genuinely interested in learning more about the Nordic legends and how they fit into the story. Without giving away any spoilers, I can say that this was definitely one of the more interesting horror novels I’ve read in a while.
the other stuff
The characters were pretty interesting too. I really liked Martha a lot, and her relationship with her grandmother was very central to the storyline, even though you never actually got to meet her mormor you definitely felt like she was a character in her own right from Martha’s recollections. Stig was also an interesting if mysterious character. I never felt I got to know him very well, but I think that was the point. He was an enigma.
If I had any criticism, it would be that the story just seemed to end, without a lot of the various plots completely tied up. I don’t think it has been planned as a series but it definitely would be great to return to this story and characters because I do feel they have more to give.
to sum up
This was, overall, a really great read and an exceptionally strong debut from author Rachel Burge. I am definitely interested in seeing what else she writes and (hopefully!) maybe a sequel to The Twisted Tree is in the works? However, even if a sequel is not in the cards, it was still a solid story with an atmospheric setting and twisty plot that delivered on thrills and creepiness which stands on its own.
for more of my reviews, click the below link:
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: