Length: 304 pages
Release date: 27 September 2018
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 . . .
Don’t be afraid of the dark.
Atmospheric, creepy and ultimately predictable, The Twisted Tree is like microwave mac and cheese–it does the trick just as you know it will, but it’s not going to yield anything new.
Rachel Burge’s debut is hardly the first supernatural thriller to draw on mythology. Better books have taken inspiration from the larger-than-life figures of tradition, especially the Norse tradition, whose grim tales make for effective dark suspense. That said, The Twisted Tree weaves connections between lonely English teenager Martha and the old tales adeptly enough to keep average YA readers engaged.
The setting is chosen well and utilised to chilling effect. As you’d expect, the story takes place on a bleak island in the middle of nowhere, perfect for the ghosts to come out and play. At first I didn’t realise Skjebne wasn’t a real member of the Lofoten Islands, but created to carry the same name as the Old Norse for fate. An interesting detail with more than a touch of foreshadowing.
Martha’s gift for psychometry through clothing I found quite original as far as superpowers go. By the end you’ll have a primer on all the types of textile commonly found in clothing and the information she can read through them. Cashmere, for example, transmits a direct dose of its owner’s emotions, while silk exposes their deceit.
Less original was the unnecessary romance subplot. I thought for a while that Rachel Bruge might go in the direction of making the love interest, whose name I can’t actually remember (that tells you all you need to know about him), the villain. Sadly, the truth was much more boring, and we’re left with another pitiable victim of instalove.
*Thanks to Hot Key Books and NetGalley for providing a review copy of this book! All opinions represented remain my own.*