When freelance editor Mouse's grandmother dies, it falls to her and her faithful coonhound, Bongo, to clean out the house. The biggest surprise isn't that Mouse's "mean as a snake" grandmother was a hoarder, though that's shock aplenty. It's her step-grandfather Frederick Cotgrave's hidden journal, depicting a darkly supernatural world in the North Carolina woods, that grips Mouse's imagination. Though she initially dismisses his claims of the "white folk" and mystical stone carvings, Mouse can't get Cotgrave's strange and haunting ramblings out of her mind: "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." When Mouse and Bongo take a walk in the woods and climb to the top of a hill that shouldn't exist, one covered in gruesome carvings and strangely enthralling sculptures, fear sets in. Mysterious nighttime tapping around the house, the otherworldly draw of the stones and the discovery of a grotesque skeletal effigy all heighten Mouse's increasing terror. Suddenly Cotgrave's ravings no longer seem crazy. But Mouse's nightmare has just begun.
T. Kingfisher's (Swordheart; Clockwork Boys) first horror novel is both disturbing and entertaining. Mouse narrates the experience after the fact as a kind of "exorcism of the events from my mind." Her conversational and often self-deprecating tone, covering unknown horrors, ex-boyfriends and never-ending radio pledge drives and, gives The Twisted Ones a modern, chilling and, at times, funny ambiance. Existing fans and those new to the field are likely to find much to enjoy in this fresh addition to the horror genre. --Jennifer Oleinik, freelance writer and editor