Halloween is done for another year, but if you’re the kind of person who’s spooky all year round, then do I have a book for you! The Twisted Tree is a snow-covered, Norse-inspired story with more than a few scary moments…
Book: The Twisted Tree by Rachel Burge
Read before: No
Ownership: Paperback and e-ARC provided by the publisher for fair review.
I’ll be honest, I don’t really do horror, or contemporary YA, so I’m not sure why I was so tempted by this one, but I’m really glad I did pick it up. Perhaps it was the amazing cover (the twisted branches are so atmospheric), or the promise of a story with some very unusual supernatural elements. Martha, the protagonist, has the power to read people’s feelings and memories by touching their clothing, which instantly had me intrigued – imagine trying to go through life never touching anyone accidentally! There is a strong supernatural/magical thread running through the whole plot, which was enough to drag me in, and then the sheer excitement of the story kept me turning the pages super quickly.
It’s hard to tell you much about the actual plot without giving too much away, because it’s the sort of story where surprise after surprise builds into a huge tapestry of story threads. Martha leaves home to live with her grandmother in Norway, but when she arrives, she finds out that her grandmother has died, and a strange boy is living in her house. Plus, terrifying things keep happening, and Martha has to learn to embrace her magical heritage to fix everything. That all sounds fairly straightforward, but the story tips and twists in ways that kept me guessing throughout! It’s a really cleverly put-together, enjoyable read.
This one was a very quick read for me, partly because of the sheer pace of the narrative, partly because I wanted to finish it before dark because I’m an utter wimp. I also had the chance to meet the author, Rachel Burge, at a Hot Key Books party a couple of weeks ago, which was amazing. It was so great to listen to her talk about her inspiration – I wish we saw more Norse mythology in pop culture (no, I don’t count Marvel’s Thor). There are some wonderful tales in that canon, and I hope that Rachel continues to bring them spookily into the modern world. The Norwegian setting is also a key part of this book – who knew snow could be so terrifying?? The dark and the cold make for a really oppressive atmosphere that is extremely vivid and adds so much to the story.
The Twisted Tree publishes in January 2019, so not too long to wait, and it’s definitely one you should pick up if you’re a fan of ghost stories or Norse mythology. It gets four out of five cats from me!