Book Title:
The Twisted Tree
Book Author:
Rachel Burge
Page Count:
Publishing Date:
January 10th, 2019
Hot Key Books
Date Read:
March 27th, 2019


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 . . .

Set in the remote snows of contemporary Norway, THE TWISTED TREE is a ghost story that twists and turns - and never takes you quite where you'd expect.

My Review

The Twisted Tree caught my attention when I was browsing Goodreads. It came across as a recommendation because I loved Coraline, and upon reading the synopsis, I instantly decided that I needed to read it. Because it isn’t available on most retailers I usually buy books from, I had to order it from Book Depository.

The first thing I noticed when I got the book is how pretty the cover is. The tree with the birds (and the bird skeletons, which my kids pointed out and told me were quite creepy), and the gorgeous metallic gold lettering in the title just really stand out. It’s probably one of my favorite covers, to be honest.

The book itself is not at all what I was expecting. It’s kind of compared to being like Coraline, but really I didn’t feel that the two were similar at all. Since I went into the book expecting to be able to make comparisons and then not act ually finding any, I think I was a bit let down. I love Coraline and have read the book more times than I can count.

The Twisted Tree, while not what I expected, was an amazing read all on its own. I enjoyed the characters, the plot, and the Norse mythology that went along with the story.

“It started the day I fell from the tree at Mormor’s cabin in Norway. The day I became blind in one eye.”

Martha is coming to Norway visit her grandmother, whom she lovingly refers to as Mormor. She has been noticing that she has a strange ability – the ability to see and feel emotions of people when she touches their clothing – and she wants answers, hoping that her Mormor would give them to her. Since she had sent countless letters to her and never received an answer back, she wants to get to the bottom of it.

So when she is supposed to be staying with her father, she instead goes to see Mormor. She texts her mother to keep up the charade of where she is, but when she gets to Mormor’s cabin, she discovers the horrifying truth – Mormor has died. Instead, she finds a teenage boy in the cabin where Mormor was living.

At first, Martha doesn’t want the boy staying there, but eventually she allows him to, otherwise she feels he would freeze to death outside in the cold. But once there, the two of them start to build a slow friendship that allows Martha to confide in him about her ability, what happened with the creepy tree in the back yard, and why she wanted to talk to Mormor so badly.

When the pair realize that there is a frightening creature running around outside, they have to go through Mormor’s journals to try and piece together what could possibly be going on, and how to stop it before someone else gets hurt.

The Twisted Tree definitely had its ups and downs, but I felt that the author did such a good job at telling this story, complete with so many Nordic mythological references that it will easily delight a large audience.

The horror/thriller aspect is also well done. I truthfully could not finish the book at night, because I got creeped out by a description of a ghost, so I had to save it for morning (granted I am kind of a big baby, so there’s that).

I did not expect the novel to play out the way it did – it was a real surprise to me and I kind of liked that. I didn’t realize that this was the way that the author was going to go with the book, but it was a fun twist that really played heavily on the mythological aspects of things, so if mythology isn’t for you or you don’t know much about it, you might find yourself just a little confused at times. Luckily, there is a name glossary in the back of the book that talks about the Nordic names and why the author used them. Definitely read this, it can be really helpful.

All in all, I think this book is well written and a really fun debut. I liked the characters (especially Stig, the boy Martha discovers in Mormor’s cabin), and I think their personalities offered a lot to the story.

While this isn’t all that heavy on the horror side of things, there are plenty of ghosts in the book for fans of ghost stories!

4 stars
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2 Responses to The Twisted Tree by Rachel Burge

  1. What an interesting sounding novel. I like that it surprised you and that it had a slight horror feel to it. Great review!
    Alicia @ A Kernel of Nonsense recently posted…The Friday 56: The Girl in the Tower by Katherine ArdenMy Profile

  2. I feel like when you go into a book expecting one thing and it turns out to be another it can be really hard to enjoy it for what it is so I’m glad you were able to get beyond that and enjoy this one despite it not being very similar to Coraline! I really like the sound of this book, even though I hadn’t heard of it before reading your review. It sounds like something I could really get into, especially since I love horror aspects in books, and I definitely don’t think there are enough YA ghost stories! I hope my library has a copy I can read. Lovely review, Kelly!
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