“The Twisted Tree” by Rachel Burge

Thanks to Hot Key Books and NetGalley for the Advance Review Copy in exchange for an honest review.

This short novel has an interesting premise, Martha, a seventeen year old girl can sense emotions and memories just by touching people’s clothing. Different clothing evokes different feelings and Martha developed this unusual ability after losing her eye falling from the eponymous Twisted Tree at her grandmother’s house. Already we can see some allusions to one-eyed Odin and Norse mythology is strongly interwoven throughout this story.

Martha decides to visit Mormor, her grandmother, at her cabin on a remote Norwegian island to try and get to the bottom of her mysterious new powers. When she arrives she learns that her grandmother is dead and her house is being squatted in by Pete Wentz circa 2007, sorry I mean Stig, a fellow runaway.

From the outset, Martha, the protagonist in this story, is quite different from a normal YA heroine as she has a visible disability. Her scar and blindness are not artful or pretty. She doesn’t have a bejewelled eye patch or an elaborate facial tattoo to turn her scar into a work of art. People are taken aback and sometimes repulsed by her milky, blind eye that points in a different direction. I thought this was refreshingly different from the usual perfectly beautiful YA heroine. Martha also has some funny inner monologues e.g.

“Brian takes out a book and cracks open the spine. Anyone who does that is not a good person as far as I’m concerned.”

P-R-E-A-C-H

The author clearly has a good knowledge of Norse Mythology and there are some genuinely creepy moments. The majority of the novel takes place in a remote cabin (I know, I know) which gives the story an air of claustrophobia and ups the ante on the creep factor.

The first half of the novel dragged a bit and was quite slow to get going. I was at over 50% before anything really exciting happened. I was entirely uninvested in the dynamic between Martha and Stig so that didn’t help much in keeping my interest for the first half of the book. I also thought there were some loose ends left untied at the end. I’m not sure if the author is planning a sequel, if not I still have some questions that need answered. I’m also not quite sure who the target audience for this book is. In many ways it felt skewed towards younger teens but in other ways it was perhaps too creepy and complex for some.

Overall, I enjoyed this novel. It was a fun, creepy read perfect for a windy evening. Try reading it in a cabin in the woods maybe?

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