Twisting Myself About | Reviewing “The Twisted Ones”

Author’s Journal | Pen Date 12.27.2021 | TWs for Sexual Violence, Language

The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This one was a bit of a doozy to get through. It’s a good book, not a great one, but an intriguing read that takes a unique spin on Arthur Machen’s short horror folk tale ‘The White People’ – and as is tradition, I hate these white people.

Now I picked up this book because of the intelligent branding to include “Nebula” and “Hugo Award Winner” on the cover. Though you can probably guess from that statement that this is not the book that won those awards.

Keeping that in mind, credit is due to the author, T. Kingfisher (Ursula Vernon), who absolutely does a fantastic job immersing readers into the life of protagonist, Melissa aka Mouse as she travels from the Big City to rural North Carolina to clean out her Grandmother’s house.

There’s this real-life awareness that not all grandparents are kind sweet loving grannies and Mouse’s was an S-Class Bee-Otch. She capture’s the reveries so perfectly of a grown adult reflecting on their childhood memories of their elders.

Despite the insane hoarding in the house that prevents Mouse from accessing the second floor and several rooms—save a ‘doll room’ straight out of Annabelle—there’s this grand sense of intrigue as she digs through the host of memories.

Eventually, she discovers a diary. A diary that belonged to her step-grandfather, Cotgrave (what a Welsh name, possibly an homage to Machen). This journal though, that’s what’s going to hook you, or force The Twisted Ones to wind its way into readers’ DNF pile.

Will reading:

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.

Over and over and over again, make you dizzy or intrigued. It certainly kept me reading. Though explanations in the end are minimal, and I would have liked a bit more, but that’s what creates the horror and suspense right? The unknown.


Although the unsettling molestation of a woman by a monster statue that impregnates her and turns her into what I essentially picture to be a cross between the Kaminoans from Star Wars and a bleached white ghost woman from a horror movie that I can’t recall, may make the book ever more difficult to connect with.

But that’s the lore that furthers the plot.

Thankfully, the characters are fun. Funny enough, Mouse is the normal one in the group, despite her name and a floppy-eared coonhound named Bongo. She makes friends with a goth barista named Enid, and she survives a handful of monster encounters alongside an elderly hippie in vibrant colors named Foxy who lives with an eclectic Tomas and bi-polar Skip in a strange commune type home.

The greatest suspense and horror moments center on ingenious monsters – or as they’re referred to in the text, ‘poppets’ or ‘effigies.’ They’re like giant walking Frankenstein’s Monsters, but instead of being made with body parts, they’re constructed from animal bones, twigs, and essentially garbage.

These poppets raise readers’ intrigue, but the disappearance of Bongo is definitely what kept me pushing through the middle chapters, which are a bit slow. That is, until we start seeing more of the effigies. Then they travel to another – dimension, universe, planet, reality . . . it’s very unclear – only to be kept as a possible sacrifice for monster statue molestation or death.

Thankfully our animal-named heroes, Foxy and Mouse, somehow escape and survive to end on a note that reminds me of The Haunting of Hill House (TV Show, I haven’t read the book). Love being immortal or everlasting or whatever. I mean I get it, but it just doesn’t seem to fit, which drops a star for me.

What I do love about the ending is hearing how Mouse is dealing with the PTSD of it all. I mean, how would you react to knowing that one wrong step might take you to a dimension of monsters, rapey statues, as well as horrendous, vile, and selfish white people (the one’s here are bad enough). It frightens her to the point of near-agoraphobia and reclusion, which I can really respect a character going through.

In the end, The Twisted Ones, is a solid 3+ Stars, so let’s call it 4. It may not be for everyone, and I’m not quite sure it was for me, but it certainly was worth the read for Kingfisher’s world building ability.

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.

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