Okay, so this is going to be for the Twisted Ones. I really enjoyed this one. I’ve loved her stuff in the past but so far I had only read her romances — and her romances were the ones that convinced me that I could enjoy romance in the first place. So, I was pretty excited to see what she would do with a horror.
Anywho, so our main character’s name (nickname) is Mouse and her grandmother dies at the start of the book which sets everything in motion. She has to go clean out her house and her dad warns her it’s “bad” but doesn’t quite give her the real scope of it and when she gets there she’s shocked by the hoarder state of the house. When she was rummaging through everything she finds a journal from her step-grandfather and it reveals the abuse he was suffering at her grandmother’s hands. So, no one liked her grandma, not even her dad. Everyone knew she was cold, abusive, and just unpleasant to be around but Mouse didn’t know that she was going so far as making her husband sleep out in the woods because if he was in the house she would wake him up, not letting him sleep. That’s essentially torture tactics, and this man dies out in teh cold from exposure. Like, wow.
The journal however holds her attention. She doesn’t know if her step grandfather was just suffering from dementia or what was going on because he wrote constantly in his journal about the Twisted ones, and how he was going to “twist himself around like the twisted ones”, it was pretty creepy but Mouse is rationalizing it away as dementia paranoia, which can totally happen.
So one day she’s walking through the woods taking a break from the packing and cleaning and her dog Bongo leads her to the top of a mountain…. that shouldn’t be there. She’s not super, super familiar with the area, but familiar enough that she knows this small mountain/large hill top shouldn’t exist and she’s just utterly confused. Again though, she rationalizes, and I think is one of my favorite parts of the book. Many times in horror movies people are tempted to yell at the screen because characters are making really dumb decisions from the outside looking in. But here we get to see the “why” that goes behind some of these decisions and lack of belief. She keeps telling herself that as soon as she gets back and tells anyone about her walk they’re all going to look at her like she’s an idiot and say, “yeah that’s moonshine mountain, everyone knows that”. I thought that aspect was well portrayed and kept a sense of realism and character relatability while also thinking “OMG DONT GO IN THERE”.
So, she comes across some stones, some creepy statues and sculptures all of which are just menacing and creepy and it looks like they follow you around with their eyes, they’re all warped and twisted and grotesque, and when she imitates one of their faces she feels her jaw unhinging past where it should and she wigs out and runs home, thankfully, she was actually able to find ‘home’ again.
So, Bongo gets lost soon hereafter and she has to stay at the creepy house even though by this point she’s ready to bug out and leave. She stays for her dog, which I also found endearing and relatable, I couldn’t leave my dog out in those woods, either.
So, there are some entertaining side characters the most notable of which is Foxy, she’s a very stereotypical horror movie badass older lady. I used to watch a lot of horror movies but not so much in the last decade, so I don’t know if this is still a popular character type, but back in the day horror movies sometimes would have this mid 60s to 80s lady who smokes, has a raspy deeper voice, knows how to hold her own, has a gives no fuck attitude, and can be counted on when shit hits the fan. That’s Foxy, she’s got a loud personality but is also good at heart and she comes more into play later as the Twisted Ones play a bigger part in the story. Again, she can be counted on when shit goes down.
All in all I would almost call this a charming horror? I’m not really sure how to classify this. I was creeped out at points, I thought it had good atmosphere, but ultimately I wasn’t all that scared. I will qualify this with I almost never am. I used to watch horror movies because horror books just don’t often elicit any kind of fear and usually horror movies don’t either, at most I just get grossed out if there’s a lot of carnage. So, I kind of gave up trying to enjoy/understand that genre. If I get into a horror book it’s usually going to be atmospheric over in your face brutality, and I’m going to want stronger characters that aren’t just plot devices, and I’m going to prefer psychological horror over most other things because I don’t visualize well — monsters and things like that rarely register the way they should because I so infrequently get “head movies”.
Anywho, would I recommend this? Yes! To people who do not want a blood filled action packed more classic horror story. This is a bit slower paced, more supernatural and atmospheric over more blatant horror tactics.
- Plot: 11/15
- Characters: 12/15
- World Building: 12/15
- Writing: 13/15
- Pacing: 13/15
- Originality: 11/15
- Enjoyment: 8/10
final score: 80/100 or 4/5 on Goodreads