Book Review: THE TWISTED TREE by Rachel Burge

Title in gold surrounded by line drawings of trees
Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: YA
Star Rating: 3 stars
Series: yes - first book in duology

Synopsis:

Book cover for THE TWISTED TREE: titled in gold on a red/white split background with branches and roots

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 . . .

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


Review:

I should probably start with a caveat: the timing of me reading this was not great. I needed something short to read while I waited for my friend to catch up to where I was in our buddy read. I am typically a monogamous reader, because I read fast and like to focus entirely on one book at a time. It did take me a bit of time to switch mentally from the book I was 1/3 through into this. Given THE TWISTED TREE is only 242 pages, that didn’t give me much time to get into the book.

Plus, I was a little uncertain going into the book. I heard the author talk about it in 2019 at YALC (the big YA book festival in London) and, to be honest, it did not sound like my sort of thing. However, this year (2021) the sequel was released, and it’s a UKYA fantasy – and I want to support those as much as I can.

Given both of those pre-existing assumptions/difficulties, I enjoyed this book much more than I was expecting. It draws on the horror of the monsters and the fates (the Norns) of the Norse mythology.

It really does play on the horror aspect – we’re talking almost to the point of it being a horror rather than a fantasy. It’s set in a remote island in Norway, where the nights are long, walls of fog roll off the sea and hide the world. There are strange noises, flickering lights, unexpected happenings, and a monster prowling outside. It is very suspenseful, and I do like something that conjures a good atmosphere.

I am sitting here trying to work out what to say about this book, but beyond “it was creepy”, there isn’t much to say as there isn’t much book. It happens over a handful of days (so the romance is pretty quick, but then again, I don’t read for the romance), and there isn’t much you can fit in that few pages. It is largely eerie happenings, and then the ancestors coming, getting all the info and charging off to fight in the very fast finale.

The ending was a bit… too neat and quick for me. The mother just turned around, changing her mind about the issue that had driven a wedge between her and Martha way too fast, and with no explanation. It all felt a bit too convenient, a bit too much of a “here’s a happy, hopeful ending with everything turning out just right” for me to buy it.

Will I read the sequel? Yeah – probably at some point. I do hate leaving things unfinished.

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