Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

The Twisted Ones

Rate this book
Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Horror (2019)
When a young woman clears out her deceased grandmother’s home in rural North Carolina, she finds long-hidden secrets about a strange colony of beings in the woods.

When Mouse’s dad asks her to clean out her dead grandmother's house, she says yes. After all, how bad could it be?

Answer: pretty bad. Grandma was a hoarder, and her house is stuffed with useless rubbish. That would be horrific enough, but there’s more—Mouse stumbles across her step-grandfather’s journal, which at first seems to be filled with nonsensical rants…until Mouse encounters some of the terrifying things he described for herself.

Alone in the woods with her dog, Mouse finds herself face to face with a series of impossible terrors—because sometimes the things that go bump in the night are real, and they’re looking for you. And if she doesn’t face them head on, she might not survive to tell the tale.

From Hugo Award–winning author Ursula Vernon, writing as T. Kingfisher.

400 pages, Hardcover

First published October 1, 2019

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

T. Kingfisher

42 books7,916 followers
T. Kingfisher is the vaguely absurd pen-name of Ursula Vernon. In another life, she writes children's books and weird comics, and has won the Hugo, Sequoyah, and Ursa Major awards, as well as a half-dozen Junior Library Guild selections.

This is the name she uses when writing things for grown-ups.

When she is not writing, she is probably out in the garden, trying to make eye contact with butterflies.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
4,596 (20%)
4 stars
8,685 (38%)
3 stars
6,708 (29%)
2 stars
2,099 (9%)
1 star
607 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,723 reviews
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,537 reviews9,818 followers
May 22, 2023
**4.5-stars rounded up**

When Mouse's Father enlists her help cleaning out her recently deceased Grandma's house, she happily agrees.

Her Dad has had some recent health troubles and wouldn't be able to do it himself. Mouse figures she'll feel good about helping and how bad can it be?

As it turns out, pretty bad.

Her Grandmother was a hoarder, never throwing anything out, including an entire room of creepy old dolls.

These really have no bearing on the story, I just get freaked out by dolls.

While this gives her beloved coonhound, Bongo, plenty to sniff and explore, Mouse can barely find room to sit down.

Seeking refuge in her Step-Grandfather, Cotgrave's, room, the only room her Grandmother left uncluttered, she comes across his journal with some pretty strange things written inside.

Are they a true tale of horror, or just the terrifying hallucinations of a lonely old man losing his grip on reality?

Mouse is definitely intrigued by what Cotgrave's has to say and she wants to find out more.

While taking Bongo on a walk in the woods behind the house, she stumbles across something that leads her to believe Cotgrave wasn't imagining the mysterious beings recounted in his journal.

She begins to investigate and with the help of some very quirky neighbors, starts to unveil the nightmarish reality of her Grandma's house.

Y'all, I loved this book so much.

It's seems this author and myself share the same sense of humor. There were so many times that I was laughing out loud, thinking, that is exactly what I would be thinking, or doing in this situation.

I loved reading from Mouse's perspective, and having Bongo as a character was just so dang relatable.

Additionally, this had one of my favorite tropes in horror, the older character, either a neighbor, friend or relation, who provides humor and a sense of comfort over the course of the story. Mouse's neighbor is a true gem in this fashion.

I have enjoyed this in many books and movies. Great examples of this type of character can be found in James Newman's, The Wicked and Stephen King's, The Tommyknockers.

As an aside, I did listen to the audiobook and the narrator was fantastic. I didn't give this a full five stars because I found some of the writings in Cotgrave's journal to be confusing.

He was recounting bits of a book he had read, which tracked one girl's experiences with the beings in the woods.

I found that hard to follow; a book within a book within a book. Looking back, I'm not exactly sure how much of that portion I actually retained.

Honestly, though, that may have been intentional on the part of the author. When you're confused, it's certainly easy for things to shock and scare you.

Overall, a fantastic ride filled with creepy folklore and nightmarish danger.

Highly recommend for the pleasure of your horror-loving heart!
Profile Image for Misty Marie Harms.
559 reviews334 followers
June 3, 2022
I made the grave mistake of reading this in the dark. At about 40% in, I randomly hear tapping on my window. I look out and no one is there. The hair on the back of my head was standing up. Then there was a loud bang on my door. Y'all I screamed and went running to the bathroom. My cellphone starts ringing. My neighbor was knocking on my door to return some containers she had borrowed. I almost died in a Tupperware return. So yeah, this book will scare the crap out of you and make you question every noise outside your windows.
Profile Image for karen.
3,979 reviews170k followers
November 17, 2019
oooh, goodreads choice awards semifinalist for BEST HORROR 2019! what will happen?

i don’t usually dig folk horror—i find it too understated; too quaint and stylized to be entertaining, let alone scary, but this book is refreshingly modern and legit creepy. i wasn’t scared-scared, since whatever part of a person that regulates the ability to be scared by books/movies seems to be broken in me, but i can wholly appreciate effective horror atmosphere, and this is FULL of skin-crawlingly memorable images and phrases, and some wonderful surprises.

i’ve read several short stories online by t. kingfisher/ursula vernon, but this is my first foray into her full-length work. (‘course, from right here where i sit writing this, i can see no fewer than THREE full-length books of hers i bought ages ago with every intention of reading immediately, and yet have not gotten around to reading, because whatever part of a person regulates the ability to read every book they buy is also broken in me)

BUT ANYWAY, i had very high expectations for this based on her short stories, so i was distraught when i missed grabbing an ARC at BEA, arriving mere moments after the copies had been distributed. i’m forever grateful to saga press for alleviating my whimpering grief by sending one my way. ♥

it’s every bit as good as what i’ve already read of hers, showcasing her strong overall sense of storytelling; everything from character, voice, atmosphere, and the frequently-overlooked element of pacing. in horror, pacing is key.

oh, and that doggie.

having just read a fantastic GOOD BOY dog in The Ten Thousand Doors of January, i was delighted to come upon another one so soon, and i’m not sure if i am more in puppy-love with Bad or Bongo. i do know that 3/4 of the folded-over pages in this book, which indicate my appreciation for a phrase or scene, are bongo-related, so i think he’s pulling ahead, but shhhh, don’t tell bad!

Bongo sat up and came over to the window. He licked the screen and seemed puzzled that it tasted like wire.

“You’re not smart,” I told him. He wagged his tail and licked the screen again, on the off chance that it had become tasty.

i love the narrator’s voice, i love her indulgent/protective relationship with bongo, her deep understanding of his individual character and his breed’s (a redbone coonhound)...idiosyncrasies, and she’s a perfect horror-heroine; neither too open- nor too close-minded, neither too fearless nor too helpless; she’s authentically capable in the face of an unfathomable situation.

this also has a hoarding component to it, and is the second horror novel i have read on that theme (after alan ryker's The Hoard) and MAN, is hoarding a situation with unlimited horrific potential. three words: creepy doll room. (shudder)

hoarding is an "ordinary horror," and she’s very good at making the mundane seem ominous:

In the morning sunlight, it was pretty obvious that the porch had been a dumping ground for old furniture, gardening equipment, and what looked like an ancient grill. All the corners had been filled in with more junk. It was really kind of impressive. She hadn’t just hoarded; she’d made walls and ramparts out of her possessions, like she was expecting a siege.

the only complaint i have is that there is an overlong chunk devoted to a found journal that was written very much in the folk horror tradition, which dragged for me because i wanted to get back to the action and the more compelling narratorial voice. exposition-wise, the journal is necessary, but it went on and on and i was not loving it. however, there’s an author’s note at the end that explains what that journal was referencing (and, not being a folk-horror fan, it was something i’d never read, although it is likely a piece collected in ANOTHER unread book i have languishing over here), and she even addresses the specific way she approached the construction of that part, which, even though i was kind of zzz during my reading of the actual part, i found her explanation/inspiration very interesting, indeed. do not skip the author’s note—she is a hoot and a treasure.

oh, and the cover does that thing i love, like Your House Is on Fire, Your Children All Gone (which is kind of ALSO folk horror, but i loved it), where there are seeeecret words glossily superimposed on the cover (which you can see in my review here), and i appreciated very much that they bothered to replicate that feature on an ARC.

so many reasons not to miss out on this book!


despite meticulous planning, i somehow missed out on this at BEA, but i'm so glad i swallowed my pride, ignored my already-teetering to-read list and straight-up begged the publisher for it, because it was everything i dreamed it would be.

gratitude for now.
review to come.

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.7k followers
July 30, 2020
Heads up for a giveaway of this book on FanLit! http://www.fantasyliterature.com/give...

The Twisted Ones is a modern twist on an old horror classic, and it exceeds the original in my opinion. Review first posted on Fantasy Literature:

The Twisted Ones begins with mild consternation: Melissa, who goes by “Mouse,” has the thankless task of taking a trip to backwoods North Carolina, with her loyal redbone coonhound Bongo for company, to clean out her late grandmother’s home. “It’ll be a mess,” her father says, in a massive understatement. Consternation shifts to deep dismay: Grandma was a hoarder. It’s even worse than normal, since her grandmother was a cruel and vicious person, and something of her evil still infuses her house, like the room full of baby dolls that looks like a “monument to infanticide.” Luckily, Mouse finds one bedroom that is clear of clutter, the bedroom of her step-grandfather Cotgrave, who died many years earlier. (If you’ve read Arthur Machen’s 1904 classic horror novelette “The White People,” you should recognize the name Cotgrave here. It’s no coincidence.)

Mouse moves into Cotgrave’s bedroom for the duration, while she works on cleaning out the house so it can be sold. In Cotgrave’s nightstand she finds his handwritten journal. In his journal Cotgrave was fretting over a lost green book that he’d obtained from a man named Ambrose. He was also troubled by a phrase that was stuck in his head, like a song that will never stop replaying:
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.
In fact, once Mouse reads this sentence in the journal, she has a hard time getting it out of her head herself. But as it turns out, the hoarding and the creepy journal aren’t the worst things about staying in her grandparents’ house. There are things in the woods surrounding the house, and they may not just stay in the woods. Mouse’s dismay at her situation evolves into terror.

The Twisted Ones is an inventive horror novel that takes “The White People” as its launching point and creates a modern-day sequel to it. Kingfisher takes Machen’s story in a different direction that I’m morally certain never occurred to him, but that I’m confident he would have appreciated. The Twisted Ones contains a more folkloric type of horror than its source material, and it’s lightened by the appealing voice and wry humor of Mouse, who narrates the story. Her job as a freelance editor informs many of her opinions about Cotgrave’s writing, almost distracting her from the journal’s deeper import.

Another source of both comfort and comic relief is Mouse’s hound Bongo. He’s a dedicated companion, loyal and loving, even if dimwitted at times, and he has an excellent nose.
I had the impression that he was thinking very hard about something (or more accurately, that his nose was thinking very hard about something. Bongo’s nose is far more intelligent than the rest of him, and I believe it uses his brain primarily as a counterweight).
These moments of lightness balance the chilling horror, which creeps up on the reader as much as it does Mouse. I read the last ten percent with my heart in my throat.

The most difficult section of “The White People” is the lengthy and hallucinatory quoting of the Green Book; The Twisted Ones has a counterpart to this tale-within-a-tale approach as Mouse dives more deeply into dissecting Cotgrave’s journal. It felt a little lengthy and difficult to unpack, though it’s not nearly as difficult to wade through as the Green Book, and after re-familiarizing myself with “The White People,” this section became much more interesting and readable.

If you’ve ever read “The White People,” The Twisted Ones is a must-read. If you haven’t, I’d recommend giving “The White People” at least a quick skim (it’s freely available online) before jumping into this novel. It’s well worth your time for any fan of the horror genre … and even for readers who — like me — aren’t normally into horror novels. I decided to give it a try because T. Kingfisher (a pseudonym of Ursula Vernon) is a fantastic author with a talent for making fairy tales and other old things new again. It was an excellent decision.

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher for review. Thanks so much!
Profile Image for Allison Hurd.
Author 3 books701 followers
October 11, 2019
I'm all riled up so though I should be sleeping, here is instead a review. This book is like being handed the script for "I Am Legend" and turning it into "Zombieland." It is based on horror, but it's not horror. It's at best Buffy the Musical.

CONTENT WARNING: (usually I say "just a list of topics, no actual spoilers," but these are weird content warnings. They are in and of themselves somewhat spoilers, but it is just a list.)

Things that were promising:

-The beginning. I called this book "horror for people with anxiety" and that started out really true. The gimmick used to invest readers is something that is more likely to upset people with certain anxious compulsions or obsessions. If you have those, then a lot of your defenses are removed and things that might be a bit cheesy become scary instead.

-Signature wit. Vernon likes her silliness and it's still here!

-The pupper. I mean it's got a doggo as one of the main characters. People with animal related fears, let me talk at ya a second.

Things that really detracted from this story:

-The mythos. If you're familiar with Lovecraft and his predecessors, this is a watered down, pale offering. Really frustrated that we tried to explore it more and in so doing robbed it of all of its mystery.

-The humor. Every blessed time the tension builds whatsoever, she does like 5 jokes to release it again so you can't ever feel invested.

-The plot. I found it absolutely inane. The vast majority of it is watching someone clean out a house, listen to NPR, edit books for work, and make bad jokes about the spooky things that any sane person would have left behind immediately. AND we never fulfill any of the purposes the MC undertakes.

-The manuscript. Goddamn this was boring. Reading someone reading someone's remembered account of what they read by someone they never met is as tedious as this sentence.

-The end. It's flippity flooping summary fripping ending! FRICK! Like come on! Your MC is an editor! She knows that's tacky!

Extra aggravated because I bought this one with real dollars. This is why I don't buy things til I've read them! I'm now 1/3 with this author. I'm not sure who I'd recommend this to...people who like cleaning, dogs, and weird southern accents? Definitely not people with anxiety and a more than passing understanding of the Cthulhu universe.
Profile Image for Peter.
2,626 reviews475 followers
November 15, 2019
What a massive read! Melissa, nicknamed Mouse, is to clear out her grandmother's house. There she comes across the mentioning of a hidden (by her evil grandmother) book , The 'Green Book', owned by her step gradfather Cotgrave. While clearing the house strange things happen. Behind the house she finds a hill with uncanny carved stone and in the manuscript found white people are mentioned. Who are those 'Hollering People' and what is Melissa's role? The story is written as first person narration. You'll read many a line why the storyteller is doing this or that and what she's just thinking. There are also rhetorical questions directed to the reader on a tiring base and stereotypical actions of a dog named Bongo. The story itself is very slow to evolve and very confusing with in-text reading of the 'Green Book' and the exploration of Melissa and Foxy (her neighbour) of the surrounding. I found it a bit tedious and slow in progress. The ingredients would be interesting but the writing was a bit slow winded and a bit plain. I would have expected more horror and a more compelling plot. The White Men refer to Arthur Machen, sure and that is fine but honestly I like Machen's style better. This book is almost a kind of pastiche to Machen. In the end I thought much ado about nothing. Of course the author is a talented writer but this book simply wasn't my cup of tea.
Profile Image for Tim.
476 reviews616 followers
February 23, 2021
First off, thanks to Marie-Therese for buddy-reading this one with me!

I loved The Hollow Places. It was honestly one of my favorite horror releases in some time, thus of course I had to pick up the author's first attempt at horror as well. Like the Hollow Places, this is a spin on a classic horror story as well, this time Arthur Machen's The White People.

The plot per the publisher: "When Mouse’s dad asks her to clean out her dead grandmother's house, she says yes. After all, how bad could it be?

Answer: pretty bad. Grandma was a hoarder, and her house is stuffed with useless rubbish. That would be horrific enough, but there’s more—Mouse stumbles across her step-grandfather’s journal, which at first seems to be filled with nonsensical rants…until Mouse encounters some of the terrifying things he described for herself.

Alone in the woods with her dog, Mouse finds herself face to face with a series of impossible terrors—because sometimes the things that go bump in the night are real, and they’re looking for you. And if she doesn’t face them head on, she might not survive to tell the tale."

Okay, let's start with the good. Much like The Hollow Places, I find this fits into a sub-genre of horror I didn't even know existed... it's comforting horror. Kingfisher writes horror novels where horrible things happen, and I get a warm fuzzy feeling inside like I'm sitting on a rocking chair, under a blanket and have the nicest slippers on. There's something relaxing about her novels... that sounds weird, but there's several reasons for this. First off, she's very funny. Her books have good banter, protagonists with a sense of humor (without ever coming off too much like joke characters) and they realistically process oddities while realizing in retrospect how insane that just was. Second, her characters are good natured, they're... well, they're just nice people. I've read two of her books and both times I sat there going "Yeah, I would hang out with these people." They are the most wholesome novels you'll ever read with horrific monsters taking people apart.

I also like that this is also a creepier novel than The Hollow Places. There was a scene in this one scene that had me staring at the page in that “I feel I should recoil from a book, but that’s just silly��� feeling.

Alright, now the negatives.

The book is very slow paced for around the first third of it. It seems like an overlong transcript of an episode of some sort of hoarders show, and I really was ready for it to just get on with it after a bit.

The book is also a touch on the repetitive side if you read The Hollow Places. Friendly, but sarcastic barista? Check. Protagonist who just broke up with someone (previous novel it was a divorce)? Check. Good portion of the early bit of the book looking for WiFi to check email? Check. Lovable pet? Of course! We seem to hit note for note for a bit. Perhaps my criticism is unfair. I should be directing that criticism towards The Hollow Places as though I read it first, it was the second novel and thus the one repeating the points... that said, I felt the other book pulled it off better. I read the previous book and got this one immediately. Had I read this one first, I would have noticed the repetition in the other and maybe wouldn't have given it a fair shot (which would be a shame as mentioned above, I found it one of the best recent horror novels that I've read).

This one is frankly not as "fun" of a novel as The Hollow Places. It may just be that I was more invested in the museum in the previous novel than Mouse's grandmother's house (really, I sat there most of the time here going "It’s a horrible old house filled with things you don’t want. Leave."), or perhaps I enjoyed the side characters more (I definitely like Simon more than the side characters in this... though as a former barista, I appreciate the barista in this one as well because I can vouch that most of the night crew when I worked there would act the same way).


Alright, I had a lot of complaints, but I don't dislike the novel. I found it a disappointment after how much I enjoyed her other book, and I can't help but compare the two, but there's still a lot of positive things. This is going to sound like a very bizarre comparison, but I'm reminded of something Akira Kurosawa once said about his film Kagemusha. He was proud of it, but he also felt like in many ways it was just a dress rehearsal for his superior film Ran later... I get the same feeling about this one. 3/5 stars
Profile Image for Joey R..
250 reviews323 followers
May 26, 2023
3.0 stars— I spent my childhood reading horror stories from Stephen King and Dean R. Koontz so I still enjoy reading a good horror/supernatural book from time to time. Unfortunately, despite loving the author’s writing style and ability, the story itself wasn’t for me. “The Twisted Ones” centers around Melissa who agrees to clean out her hoarder, dead grandmother’s home so that her father can sell it. Melissa is written in a very believable and likable way that had me rooting for her throughout a story that got weirder and crazier the longer it went. When Melissa finds some rambling writings by her late stepfather about twisted people which coincide with Melissa herself discovering some strange beings in the woods and around her house the “horror” part of the story begins. Unfortunately for me, the whole foundation of the book with scary rock creatures inhabiting strange worlds was ridiculous and I couldn’t get into the book. I continued reading because Melissa and her feisty older neighbor, Foxy, were such humorous, well drawn out characters I had to know what happened to them. Maybe I read “The Stand” by Stephen King too many times, but this book gave the same vibes as it but not near the same quality storyline. With that being said, I will definitely read T. Kingfisher again as her ability to write believable characters with a sharp sarcastic sense of humor is as good as I’ve read for a very long time. I am hoping that if her writing is that intelligent and funny in all of her books that I will latch on to the plot of the next book and a 5 star read will be the result.
March 28, 2023

Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest

Okay, so let me start off this review by saying that I am the BIGGEST horror wuss, so if you're an aficionado take this review with a grain of salt. (Maybe the whole jar, actually.) I like gothic tales and ghost stories but I don't like graphic violence or books where the pets or the love interests die, so as you can imagine, reading horror is usually an especially fraught experience for me. I love the aesthetics, I just hate the misery-- and I get super, super anxious while reading.

T. Kingfisher understands the desperate need among the anxious for vibes and aesthetics but no Super Bad Things in horror. Between this book and WHAT MOVES THE DEAD, I ended up both charmed, amused, and scared out of my pants, but both had satisfying endings that were bittersweet (bonus in this one: the dog doesn't die). I think people reading this expecting, I dunno, Stephen King, might be mad, but man, what an amazing story. Apparently it's a sort of expansion/homage to Arthur Machen's "The White People." I've never read that story but I'm sure the author did a great job (God bless the public domain).

This story is about a woman named Mouse who is tasked with cleaning out her grandmother's house when she dies. But her grandmother was a hoarder-- and her step-grandfather was apparently harboring some pretty insane delusions about people he calls "the twisted ones." Mouse finds a journal in his bedroom detailing some of his ramblings, with references to a manuscript and something he calls The Green Book. The more she reads, the weirder it gets. But then Mouse starts to see things in the wood: creatures that shouldn't exist and places that should be there. And then she starts to wonder if maybe her step-grandfather wasn't really delusional after all.

I don't want to say anything else because some people are out there giving way too many spoilers in their reviews and less is definitely more, but I LOVED this book. I loved Bongo the Hound. I loved the people Mouse encounters who help her on her journey: Enid the Goth barista, Foxy the hippie, and Tomas and Skip, people living at the commune (one of them is bipolar and the rep is so casual). I loved how creative and creepy this world that the author built felt. I've seen people calling it folk horror and after thinking about this, apparently that's the kind of horror I like. Cozy horror with vibes. If you enjoyed this experience, books with similar themes are YOU LET ME IN, THE CHINA GARDEN, and THE STRANGER. I loved all of these books so apparently creepy rocks and creepy trees are my thing. Go figure. Either way, T. Kingfisher is the only person out there who I trust to scare me properly and politely.

The only reason this isn't getting a full five stars is because I wanted to find out what was really going on with the grandmother and get more closure with the book. I feel like a lot of things were left to the reader's imagination or whatever, and sometimes that feels like cheating. I'm not mad, though.

4 to 4.5 stars
Profile Image for Ginger.
754 reviews375 followers
September 23, 2022
The Twisted Ones is a bit hard for me to rate.

I’m going with 3.5 stars and adding a 1/2 star for Roxy. She was the best!

This is the first book that I’ve read by T. Kingfisher and I was impressed with the imagery, creepy moments and atmosphere in the book!

The Twisted Ones starts with Melissa aka Mouse heading to her grandmother’s house in rural North Carolina to clean up the place and put it up for sale.
Her Dad and family were not close to her Grandma because she was a nasty piece of business. She's agreed to help her Dad out on this chore since he's not doing well.

Mouse and her adorable coonhound Bongo make the journey and come to realize her Grandma was not only a hoarder but no one liked her in the community.
Her Grandma was a shut in and married a man later in life. Mouse finds out that her dead step-grandfather also had strange secrets and has no idea what any of it means when she comes across his journal one night.

While exploring the woods one day, Mouse and Bongo come across something that will change her life and sanity forever. She realizes that her step-grandfather might not be so crazy after-all!

The Twisted Ones was great for me in the beginning with the characters and all of the strange and creepy moments.

By the ending, I wasn’t as scared or uneasy as I should have been with what was going down. I think the ending dragged on a bit longer with the weird then it should and it felt more fantasy then horror.

I also thought that Mouse went to humor during the horror moments more than needed.
I understand that someone will likely do that for sanity reasons and I would have been fine with it for a few times. But when she did it every time, it took away from the buildup of the unease and horror for me.
Just being honest here...

This book definitely has a strange H.P. Lovecraft feel to it and if you struggle with the "weird" in books, you might struggle with this one.

I do love folklore horror in books and loved many things about this so I'm still glad that I read it!

I’m excited to read more books by T. Kingfisher after reading this by her! Just the character of Roxy that she came up with will have me checking out all of her books now! :D
Profile Image for Michelle.
424 reviews69 followers
February 27, 2020
if it isn’t just fucking bold to have your main character be a freelance editor who constantly drags other people for bad writing, considering how bad the writing in this book is. it’s literally laughable. were they out of editors when t. kingfisher was writing this, then? or what? because this has one of the cringiest, if not THE cringiest writing in any adult horror novel i’ve ever read.

the main character is a gullible idiot who thinks she’s witty and self-aware while having the IQ of, like, a brick or something, and the side characters are dangerously close to caricature territory. and how am i supposed to take a horror novel seriously when there’s a dog who constantly "says" things and his barks are WRITTEN OUT AS DIALOGUE? am i reading middle grade? NOT SO SURE half the time.

worst of all, aside from one well-handled scene, this book has sequences that are meant to be creepy but they drag on and on a on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and if i’d had any interest left by that point, i would have lost it.

WHY ALL THE PRAISE? smh. i’m reading all the top 10 horror books as per the goodreads choice awards from 2019 and this is by F A R the worst one so far.
Profile Image for Riley.
427 reviews21.1k followers
July 5, 2021
i think i was right to dnf this the first time, pushing through was not worth it unfortunately
Profile Image for Fran.
640 reviews586 followers
June 23, 2019
In the backwoods of North Carolina stood the house of Melissa's estranged dead grandmother. Melissa aka Mouse, with her Redbone Coonhound "Bongo" in tow, arrived in her pick-up truck to clean out the house as per her father's request. Grandma,"a nasty piece of work" who was "mean as a snake" was a hoarder. The house was a virtual firetrap; storage bins piled "knee high", newspapers "piled in neatly tied stacks", and "a room of dolls, dead dolls with hyper-realistic faces peeking out from behind boxes." "One [box] was full of papers... [Mouse] riffled it briefly but no stock certificates fell out. Well, a woman can dream."

Frederick Cotgrave, deceased as well, had been married to grandma but occupied his own "nearly empty" room in stark contrast to her hoarding ways. A small black journal on his nightstand piqued Mouse's interest. The writings were bizarre. "Too dangerous to sleep in the woods anymore. They've got my scent now...I made faces like the faces on the rocks...". In Mouse's words,"If Bongo had been scared of the house, I might have left...Bongo thought the place was grand. There were things to sniff." Wrong! Strange occurrences started to mirror Cotgrave's musings.

Creepy, harrowing secrets from long ago start to slowly surface. Mouse counted on Bongo for comfort. She befriended Foxy, a tall hippyish woman, who wore a "riot of mismatched color...somehow all pulled together." Ageless Foxy lived on a nearby commune. Tomas, Foxy's housemate, told Mouse to be careful of "things in the woods around here."

Writing under the pen name T. Kingfisher, Hugo Award winner Ursula Vernon delivers a frightening, creepy horror novel. "The Twisted Ones" additionally portrays the loving bond between Mouse and her dog "Bongo" and their dependence upon each other to quiet their fears. How will this chilling, roller coaster of fear, anticipation and emotion conclude? An engrossing, nail-biting tome I highly recommend.

Thank you Gallery/Saga Press and Net Galley for the opportunity to read and review "The Twisted Ones".
Profile Image for Racheal.
1,014 reviews83 followers
June 23, 2019
In my mind I roughly categorize supernatural horror into two main groups: Babadook-style horror and Cabin in the Woods-style horror.

Babadook-style horror is the kind that starts out right off the bat with a low-grade, unceasing tension, and it usually follows one or more Very Unhappy People. You see the characters and think- do they really need to go through even more shit? Their lives already kind of suck. But the story often relies at least to some extent on the narrative mystery of "is this supernatural or is it budding psychosis? Or maybe a metaphor for something else entirely?" It's usually a bit of a downer.

Cabin in the Woods-style horror starts out lighter, sunnier, with average folks just living their lives. Once the crap starts hitting the fan, there's not usually much prevarication about whether or not the horror is supernatural. Part of the horror comes in the knowledge that even though these characters are relatively good people, even though they are making ok decisions, this thing is going to wreck their world. It focuses on the huge transition-- we were so happy and normal yesterday and now nothing will ever be the same ever again.

The Twisted Ones is definitely the latter, much to my delight!

The story centers on a 30-something editor, Mouse, who journeys to rural North Carolina to clean out her estranged grandmother's house at her father's behest. When she gets there she's exasperated to find that her grandmother had been a hoarder, and every room of the house is filled with hangers and newspapers and bags full of bags. Every room, that is, except for her step-grandfather's bedroom, where she finds his creepy diary full of creepy prose that seem to worm their way into her head.

Now the first thing I'll say is that the overall tone of the book is lighter for a bigger chunk of the book than I would have expected from looking at the cover. The blurb describes it as "The Blair Witch Project meets The Andy Griffith Show," which I find to be an odd choice for a variety of reasons (has anyone in the target demographic even seen The Andy Griffith Show, for one?), but I think it's trying to give you the idea that the story's not all grimdark horror all the time.

Oh don't get me wrong, this is definitely horror. It goes into some deliciously weird directions, and it pays off satisfyingly in the end.

But for the first part of the book its appeal is in the narrator, who's one of the most engaging, relatable characters I've read in a while. I loved how irreverent and low-key snarky Mouse is without her voice ever feeling forced or self consciously jokey, and I found the plethora of descriptions about her lovable dumbass of a dog to be super endearing.

It also becomes clear pretty quickly that Mouse uses humor and denial to cope with all the weirdness going on. So while I think the bits of humor (especially when paired with the first person past tense, which by definition assures the survival of the narrator), tend to insulate the horror a bit, I do think that it all makes sense for the character.

And that's the thing-- everything here makes so much sense. The story does such a great job of gradually building up the creep factor in a really believable way. Every beat of the story happens for a reason, everything that happens feels like a natural extension of what happened before. I love that it never had me screaming over stupid plot or characters decisions and let me just enjoy the ride.

And enjoy it I did. Overall I loved the clever writing, engaging narrator, expert plotting, and serious creep factor. Plus, I devoured it in like 24 hours which I haven't done with a non-romance in quite a while, and a weeks later it's still giving me that "oooh yeah, that was good" feeling.
Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,661 reviews5,140 followers
December 29, 2021
I didn't realize how much I needed more folk horror in my life until reading this, but wow. This was so enjoyable, though the ending did go off the rails for me a bit; that said, I still loved this immensely and recommend it so highly, especially if you can grab the audiobook. Mouse and Bongo were so precious and I felt fiercely protective of them both because I just couldn't help but adore them.

(By the way, and this is a non-spoiler, as the narrator informs you right off the bat: the dog lives in this one!)
Profile Image for Char.
1,637 reviews1,488 followers
January 6, 2020
3.5/5* (Rounded up to 4 for Goodreads.)

THE TWISTED ONES was a nice take on folklore and an homage, (or is it a sequel?) to Arthur Machen's THE WHITE PEOPLE.

I loved the narrators of the story, (both the protagonist and the narrator of the audiobook), which went a long way towards my enjoyment. I think if I had read this, instead of listening, the repetition of certain phrases and certain behaviors regarding the protagonist and her dog would have gotten on my nerves a lot more.

I enjoyed THE TWISTED ONES mostly for the characters, I think, especially Foxy. She cracked me the hell up-maybe because I know people just like her? Full of surprises, sometimes vulgar, but always down to earth and willing to help.

Overall, I'm glad I joined the group read with the LADIES OF HORROR FICTION group here on Goodreads. I enjoyed chatting with them while we were reading.


*I bought this audiobook with my hard earned cash and this is my honest review.*
Profile Image for Beverly.
807 reviews292 followers
May 5, 2023
Another scary, yet somehow cozy, read by T. Kingfisher, The Twisted Ones is almost as weird and wonderful as The Hollow Places. Perhaps, since this one was written first, it didn't quite knock my socks off like The Hollow Places, but it's still creepy and sweet in equal measures.

There are some real nasty bits in this that would make a great horror film, the animated bone and debris creatures are monstrous. The characters are well done; they are real people who are genuinely kind and have a sense of humor which comes in handy when you're fighting beings from another dimension.

Mouse is the main character; she is resourceful and loyal and her hound, Bongo, is silly and lovable, who doesn't mind when she sneaks her cold feet under him in bed. Mouse also has the help of some odd, but warm-hearted neighbors who won't let her down when push comes to shove.
Profile Image for Michelle .
258 reviews78 followers
February 24, 2021
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

The Twisted Ones started out as a folklore type horror. Animal monsters creeped in the woods behind Mouse's grandmother's house. The writing was slow but full of sinister atmosphere. And as the tale moved along those ghoulish monsters closed in tighter, setting up several jump scares and fun frights.

But the end lost me.

The story had so much potential to end with a frenzy of the macabre. Instead, it limped to its death with a dull origin reveal. Mouse, too, became repetitive and cringy about her dog... We get it, she loves her dog. Relax.

While The Twisted Ones has many original and spine-shivering moments, the overall narrative falls flat.

I adored The Hollow Places, though, so I'll definitely keep an eye out for more from this author.
Profile Image for Katie Colson.
649 reviews5,828 followers
August 25, 2022


I don't care what genre or plot she's writing, I will eat it up with a bib in place. This woman has my SOUL.

This was so clearly a test run for her later works. There are so many easter eggs to The Hollow Places. Things she tried out in this novel and then later refined. I enjoy that. I think this was a great beginning horror for someone who was testing out her writing style and what worked for her. I can't wait to read everything this women has ever written.
Profile Image for K.J. Charles.
Author 59 books8,139 followers
August 2, 2020
A modern take on the Arthur Machen 'weird things in hills' story. It's exceedingly creepy and vividly weird, but since this is T Kingfisher there is also a streak of stubborn humour and a sense of human kindness and decency to balance the evils of which people (human and non) are capable. A horror novel I could cope with emotionally, which is not to be sneezed at in these trying times. And of course lovely writing and beautifully constructed.
Profile Image for Marie.
933 reviews233 followers
October 31, 2022
Twisted Terror!

A small backstory:

Melissa (a/k/a Mouse) along with her dog, Bongo go out to the backwoods of North Carolina as her grandmother passed away leaving a house that needs to be cleaned out, but with a warning from her dad that the house could be bad as her grandmother was a hoarder of all things. Mouse just decides to "step into it" and do what needs to be done to help out her dad no matter what.

Not too long after "tackling the dirty job of cleaning the house" Mouse takes a hike out into the woods with her dog, Bongo and stumbles across an area with some freaky stones. From that point on in the story, things go totally weird and spooky things start happening around her grandmother's house.

Mouse eventually meets her neighbors (Foxy, Tomas and Skip) which tell her crazy stories about "things out in the woods" and when Mouse discovers an old journal from her step-grandfather, Cotgrave and his ramblings of what he thinks is out in the woods, the creepiness hits the fan!

That is about all I can give on a small backstory without giving away spoilers so if you want to know more about this book, then go read it!


This was a great tension twisted (definitely a great title for this book "twisted") edge of the seat - no holds barred creeped out crazy horror thriller! Wow! First time reading this author and this book just took me into an insomnia fueled freaky dreams a couple or so nights as it dug deep into my psyche!

The story is told from the pov of Mouse throughout the whole book and what she goes through with finding the "things" out in the woods. I really liked all the characters and loved the dog, Bongo.

The book had some creepy moments kind of in the beginning of the story but it was spotty here and there throughout until I hit the 50% mark then it totally went "bonkers" and I had a hard time putting it down! Total overdrive scary stuff right after the halfway mark and totally kept me wanting to read the story without taking a break! I have been wanting to read this book for awhile so I am happy that I finally dived into it as it was one creepy ride into the unknown backwoods filled with spooky things!

However, having said all that this book went totally into the twilight zone strange after the 70% mark as I wasn't expecting the story to go the way it did which drops this book down a star. The story does a complete 360 degrees from "spooked scared out of my pants" to "hyperventilating let me out of this book zone"! lol

I know one thing for sure and that is if I find any weird stones in my backyard I am leaving the damn things alone! Not adventuring into the wild woods to locate any sources of where they came from as that is what happens in this story. Like the old saying "ignorance is bliss" would have worked well in this story! 😅

All in all though the book has plenty of spook moments and the characters dialogue kept me giggling as I would find myself laughing while reading the book as the character quips were priceless. Giving this book four "Freaky Folklore" stars!
Profile Image for Latasha.
1,282 reviews371 followers
September 21, 2022

i added this to my TBR is June of 2019 and went on about my business. when it won a group read in November, i saw that i had marked it as to read and now was the time to read it. i didn't really remember what it was about but that's ok. OMG guys, this book!! I love Mouse and Bongo! i love how she talks to him and how much she cares about that old hound dog. I love Foxy, she's great and i could picture her exactly. The characters in this book were so realistic and easy to care about.
The setting and the story line is perfect. At first, i was really getting The Yellow Wallpaper vibes from it but oh no honey. it's so not that. there are some really scary as hell scenes in here and if i was reading or listening to this at night, i would have turned it off/set the book down. The mystery as to what is in the woods is easy to figure out but there's more to it than what are they. don't worry, you'll find out when you read this fantastic book.
Hillary Huber reads this and she does SO GOOD! i would love to hear more books read by her.
This is one of my favorites for 2019.

2nd reading: still just as great and still a favorite. Listened again in Sept. 2022.
Profile Image for Leo.
4,311 reviews390 followers
September 30, 2022
This book was as the other book I recently reviews "the right book at the right time" kind of moment. I was expecting something more intense and scarier but found this as a "light" but fun and interesting horror. I liked the whole house situation with her grandma, that she had to clear out after her passing. Definitely added to the spookyness.
Profile Image for Mogsy (MMOGC).
2,032 reviews2,604 followers
October 15, 2019
4.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2019/10/15/...

The Twisted Ones was a fun novel featuring the perfect blend of humor and horror, with the first element provided mainly in the form of the main character’s incredibly infectious voice, while the second came via the setting’s creeptastic atmosphere. You’ve got an old house in the middle of the woods, filled with decaying trash and other ghastly things like scary baby dolls. Meanwhile, the locals also know better than to go wandering among the trees, for it is said the laws of reality work differently here, and unwary travelers might suddenly find themselves stumbling through a veil into another world. Not to mention, the woods is home to monsters—strange, grisly creatures made from dead bodies and grinning skulls.

But of course, being a newcomer, Mouse was unaware that any of this awaited her as she rolled up to her late grandmother’s house, at the behest of her father who wanted to see if anything could be salvaged from the property. One look, however, was enough to tell Mouse the answer. Dear old granny was a mean, miserable bitch in life (no, seriously, she was a real piece of work), and in her last days, seemed to have become quite the recluse and hoarder as well. The place is filled from top to bottom with useless junk, but being the dutiful daughter, Mouse decides to stick around and help clean it out. Together with her loyal coonhound Bongo, the two get ready to settle in for the long haul.

But soon, during her walks in the woods with Bongo, Mouse starts coming across impossible things, like a grassy hill where none was supposed to be, or odd stones carved with unnerving pictures and symbols. And then came the most frightening discovery of all—a gruesome effigy made of animal bone and body parts, hanging from a tree. Mouse knows she shouldn’t let her imagination get away from her, and yet she can’t help but feel the thing might have been alive—watching and waiting. Worse, among her grandmother’s cluttered belongings, Mouse finds an old journal that belonged to her step-grandfather. To anyone else, the old man’s writings would have sounded like the nonsensical ravings of a disturbed mind, but after seeing what she did in the woods, Mouse has reason to believe her step-grandfather must have been terrorized by the same horrors plaguing her now.

Be sure not to let the cheery, affable nature and tone of the narrator fool you into thinking this is a light and airy novel, because this one was downright CREEPY. In particular, there was a scene around halfway through that made me regret my decision to read this book after dark, as I ended up having a bit of trouble falling asleep that night, my attention drawn constantly to the window to make sure nothing was peering inside. Anyone who’s read The Twisted Ones will probably know exactly which scene I’m talking about.

But let’s back up and talk about how this book captured my attention and love immediately, starting with the first page when readers were introduced to Mouse, a middle-aged editor who just got out of a bad relationship and is in desperate need of a distraction. Right away, you knew this was a strong and independent lady who knew how to take care of herself, and who wouldn’t let a setback stop her for long. In the end though, what I adored most about Mouse, and what made her so relatable, was her easygoing and funny personality, and I lost track of the number of times where she said something that made me burst out laughing.

To be sure, finding this balance between fright and fun was the best surprise, and what I loved most about The Twisted Ones. And I guess seeing such a strong, vivacious and easygoing character like Mouse go to pieces with terror at the things she sees in the woods also somehow emphasized the novel’s horror for me.

Other aspects I enjoyed include the side characters, like Foxy and Tomas, and of course, who can forget sweet, goofy Bongo, who brought so much bounce and joy and to this story—to the point where I would insist horror fans who are also dog lovers must read this book. In terms of criticisms, I honestly can’t think of much, though I suppose if push comes to shove, I would say the ending might have been a tad on the weaker side due to some disjointedness.

Still, as you can probably tell, I had a great time with The Twisted Ones. This was my first experience with Ursula Vernon, who is writing here as T. Kingfisher, but it certainly wouldn’t be my last! Overall, I loved the mix of creepiness and humor, and after a string of horror books that failed to leave much of an impression this October, I’m also relieved and happy to finally read one that didn’t disappoint! Highly recommended if you’re looking for a spine-chilling read this season that’s also tremendously entertaining.
Profile Image for Elle G. Reads.
1,557 reviews739 followers
August 23, 2019
Release Date: October 1, 2019
Genre: Horror/Fantasy

Unfortunately, this book just didn't do it for me. I love the MC because she had a great personality and a snarky attitude but I didn't care how the book felt more fantasy than horror. Sure there were a few moments that gave me the chills (especially at the beginning)

Then 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...

but those chills didn't last. Perhaps I'm asking too much as the story may be targeted better towards those who enjoy fantasy (I do not). Or maybe the book slump I have been in hasn't completely gone away. Either way I just didn't love this one and it was an okay read for me.

I think those who can go into the story with an open mind will enjoy this one more. I personally thought it would be a scary horror novel and was surprised it wasn't, but that doesn't mean others won't like it. So take my review with a grain of salt and read it for yourself if the blurb catches your attention.
Profile Image for Bill.
929 reviews301 followers
November 29, 2019
OK, I'm calling it. DNF'd at 32%.

What a disappointment.
I had put this and a few other horror novels on my shelf last month in the spirit of Halloween, and then waited until I was really in the mood for them. The mood struck, and this was the one I grabbed.
I wish I could remember where I saw a recommendation for this one so I can discount that source going forward.

The Twisted Ones reads like it was written by a high school student. The writing is terribly juvenile, especially where the cutesy passages about the dog come in, which is pretty much every page.
If you're looking for lighthearted mood in the face of horror, and love cute little mentions of dog behaviour, this is for you. This is not what I was after, and I can't believe the high rating and its nomination for best Goodreads horror of the year.
Come to think of it, based on the last few years I can believe it, which is unfortunate.
Profile Image for Melki.
5,800 reviews2,342 followers
July 22, 2021
He glanced upward over the roof, and then said, "Hey, be careful, yeah?"

"Careful?" I said, a bit more sharply that I intended.

"Ah, you know. Things in the woods around here."

There are some creepy times in store for Mouse, a young woman who volunteers to clean out her dead grandmother's rural house. Turns out, Granny was a hoarder . . .

Christ. The doll room. I'd forgotten all about that.

But, that quickly becomes the least of her problems. There are indeed things in the woods, and she's looking for clues from a dead man as to how to handle those . . . things.

If I had the book, could maybe find the signs to keep them away, but can't remember now. Poppets made of beeswax and clay? But could be what summons them instead.

The author's sense of humor shows in her writing, and helps lighten even the scariest moments. I also have to mention what a joy it is to read about a dog-loving character who is written by a writer who honestly knows dogs (unlike a certain crime writer whose detective protagonist owned the only border collie in history that not only never needed any exercise, it never even needed to go outside to pee). This little exchange from Kingfisher's book could have taken place in my own home, with my own dog, and really made me laugh:

Bongo sat up and came over to the window. He licked the screen and seemed puzzled that it tasted like wire.

"You're not smart," I told him. He wagged his tail and licked the screen again, on the off chance that it had become tasty.

And, don't worry - the dog DOESN'T DIE. (Not a spoiler as the main character pretty much tells you that at the beginning of the book.)

I enjoyed this one immensely.
Profile Image for Debra .
2,293 reviews35k followers
January 27, 2023
The twisted ones was one twisted read! I enjoy T. Kingfisher's books, and this was no exception. This book was creepy and full of tension. There are things that go bump in the night, the day, the woods, etc. When this book isn't being creepy, it has parts of humor. I loved the quirky characters who provided the humor and helped Mouse in various ways.

There are things that you expect to find when clearing out a relative’s house and there are quite shocking. Mouse (Melissa) was cleaning out her deceased grandmother's home when she found her step-grandfather’s journal, which at first looked like nonsensical ranting. But soon, Mouse saw something that looked like what was in the journal. What follows is terrifying. Of course, she decided to do her own detective work with the help of her dog and neighbors, Foxy, Tomas and Skip who tell her about the creepy things in the woods. This is where I would have left as fast as I possibly could. Plus, if creepy things were in the woods near my home, I wouldn't stay. I've seen too many horror films to put up with that crap. But to stop things, she stays and ….

Tense, creepy and quirky.

Read more of my reviews at www.openbookposts.com

Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,723 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.