Sunday, October 25, 2020

REVIEW: The Twisted Ones (audiobook) by T. Kingfisher, narrated by Hillary Huber

The Twisted Ones is horror/dark fantasy. I first read a paper copy a few months ago, and I recently listened to the audio version via an Overdrive.


Melissa, called Mouse by everyone who knows her, is asked by her dad to go clean out her dead grandmother's house. What her dad failed to mention was that her grandmother was a hoarder. The house is horrible, but not a biohazard, so Mouse hunkers down and gets to work, with her hound Bongo for company.

One of the things Mouse finds is her stepgrandfather's journal. He showed signs of dementia, and Mouse's grandmother was almost certainly abusing him, preventing him from sleeping and taking things that were important to him. However, there are also signs that he might have known about something strange going on in the area, something connected to the hill that shouldn't exist that Mouse and Bongo accidentally stumble across.

I don't know what it is about this book that makes it so hard for me to review it, but I'm now well past the reviewing slump I was in when I first read the print version, I've since listened to the audio version, and I'm still barely able to write this review.

Although this had some creepy moments - the effigies and descriptions of some of the stones made my skin crawl - it wasn't nearly as scary as the cover and some mentions of it on Twitter made me think it would be. Part of it, I think, was that Mouse was so incredibly grounded and practical. She was there and she had a job to do, even when things started to get a little weird or upsetting. For the most part, she wasn't easily spooked, and she was more apt to think about local plants and garbage sorting in her grandmother's house than to dwell on creepy things.

Then there was Bongo, who was also not easily spooked, even when he should have been. Bongo was probably my favorite character - a simple and happy hound who just wanted to smell interesting smells. I appreciated that Kingfisher made it clear early on that Bongo was going to make it through everything just fine, so I didn't have to waste a bunch of emotional energy worrying about him.

I'm not sure what else to say. I like the author's style. I liked that the effigies managed to be both creepy and, by the end, sad. Foxy worked better for me in audio than she did in print - Hillary Huber's narration was really good, overall. I know the repetition - the litany of the Twisted Ones - bugged some people, but for me it just added to the atmosphere. 

The author has another "creepy cover, marketed as horror" book, The Hollow Places, that came out earlier this month. I'm looking forward to reading it, but with revised expectations - like The Twisted Ones, I expect it'll have creepy moments but not genuinely scare me. Which, honestly, is fine.

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