Hi, everyone. My name is Katie, and each week I’m going to give you my totally unbiased perspective of a book I didn’t read based on an interview I have with a Friends of the Library volunteer. Although the books discussed are very real and definitely read by my interviewees, they are most certainly not read by me.
For this interview, I spoke to a bookstore employee named Mark.* Mark was not expecting to do this interview, but as soon as he found out what this was all about, he was happy to abandon his desk and loads of work to waste 20 minutes with me. At this point, I wasn’t sure whether I was happier to see his enthusiasm or more concerned to see how willing he was to allow his co-worker to pick up the slack.
(Sentences and words in bold type are my own commentary. I hope you find it as amusing and disruptive as it was intended to be.)
*name was changed in order to salvage employee’s dignity
The name of this week’s book is “The Twisted Ones” by T. Kingfisher.
Me: What book are we talking about today?
Mark: We’re talking about “The Twisted Ones.” It’s a book I chose for October because, ya know, it’s a scary novel–I wanted to get in the mood for something a little terrifying.
Me: So, what kind of a book is this?
Mark: It’s a horror book. Not a thriller, but definitely in the horror category.
Me: So it was traumatizing but not exciting?
Maybe a little too early for a joke.
Mark: It was actually exciting, curiously funny–the main character reacted in the ways you would also react in actuality–and of course scary.
Me: It seems like there’s a self-awareness...instead of how people in horror books and movies usually are, which is...always blindly running into the danger and away from safety.
Me: I love that. Now, who is the main character or characters, and what happens? What’s the overall picture here?
Mark: Sure. The premise is actually really simple...at least I’ll keep it simple before it gets crazy.
He tried really hard to keep it simple.
Mark: You have this publicist named Nel. She can work from anywhere, so after her grandmother passed away a few months before (they didn’t really have a good relationship since her grandmother was a very negative and mean-spirited woman, and no one in the family wanted to deal with her house), Nel’s father asked her to go down to South Carolina into this backwoods town and clean up and scope out the house to see if it was worth selling.
Me: So far this is a typical haunted-house horror scenario.
Mark: Well, wait. Nel is expecting to get in, get out, boom, but as soon as she enters the house, she realizes her grandmother was a hoarder and this job would take a lot longer than that. The premise was, as Nel cleared out the space, weird things started happening around the house.
Me: Waiting for the twist.
Get it? Twist? Because the book is called “The ‘Twisted’ Ones?”
Mark: Ha, ha. The house itself wasn’t really haunted. It was more about the haunting
of what is left behind by others when they pass. And the more you dig into someone’s life and belongings, the more you find out about them and their past.
Me: Ooh–that’s cool. So, what happens?
Mark: Ok. While Nel was scoping out the house, she decided to take her dog for a walk, and she noticed there’s a weird, white, twisted stone with carvings in the backyard. And the dog was barking at it. It was strange-looking and she couldn’t really tell what it was. But at first, Nel just thought, “wow, grandma was really weird.”
Me: Was grandma a witch?
Mark: No. So later that night Nel began to hear sounds that she wrote off as woodpeckers, and she saw things moving outside that she wrote off as deer. But when she finally took her dog for a walk, she stumbled upon a portal to a place that really shouldn’t exist.
Mark: And all of a sudden she was on this huge hill that was covered in these white monoliths.
Me: She entered another dimension!
Mark: It’s fairies.
Mark: She entered a fairy circle.
Mark: And these monolith stones awere twisted.
Me: Physically or emotionally?
Mark: Hah–physically. And later on, when Nel discovered her grandmother’s journal, she noticed her grandmother had written about what she referred to as “the twisted ones,” and she says that the reason she cluttered her house was to make it hard for “the twisted ones” to get in.
Me: Either they’re both crazy or they’re both right.
Mark: Exactly. And, while before Nel thought this was just the journal and home of someone with dementia, at this point she was starting to catch the paranoia too as more and more weird things happened.
Me: Question–I wonder if, in real life, a lot of people who are thought to have dementia or be “crazy” are really just the sane ones exposed to unusual circumstances–which would make everyone else the “crazy” ones.
We could have spent a few more hours talking about this, but for your sake, I will end that here.
Me: Then what happened in fairy land?
Mark: It really just built up from that. More weird things started to happen, like a deer carcass with strange carvings was found strung up on a tree.
Me: Did this come out of fairy land?
Mark: Yes. And it followed the whole path of fairy lore–this idea of going “over the hill.” Except in this story, the author made the fairies terrifying–they’re like these other beings that can only exist in certain dimensions. The whole idea is that the twisted ones are actually the fairies’ minions, and now that the masters (the fairies) are gone, the twisted ones don’t know what to do anymore.
Me: So they went crazy.
Mark: And they’re trying to recreate the fairies by kidnapping animals or humans, bringing them to fairy land, and piecing them together.
Mark: It’s kinda like “the changlings”–this whole myth of taking a baby, going to fairy land, and them leaving a creature behind, ya know?
I definitely did not know. In fact, I was wildly confused by most everything Mark had just said.
Me: I feel like you’re very versed in fairies. Is that an accurate statement?
Mark: I’ve read a lot of books that deal with–
Me: You’re very versed in fairies.
Mark: In lore. I don’t have like a house full of fairy stuff.
I wasn’t so sure.
Me: So what happened in the end?
Mark: Nel’s dog was kidnapped, and she was led by a human who had been in fairy land for hundreds of years–because time was different there–to go get her, since humans will do anything for their fur babies.
Me: Uh oh.
Mark: So she went into fairy land with this woman, whose body has adapted to this new reality, without knowing that this woman wanted to entrap Nel so she could leave. Because she couldn’t leave unless someone else stayed behind.
There are many laws of lore, and since this one sounded important, I woke up to listen.
Me: Did this woman ever try to get grandma in there?
Mark: She did, but grandma protected herself. And then she was trying to get Nel in there, but at the last moment, Nel grabbed her dog and ran away after facing all these horrors with the creatures coming at her.
Me: Did she make it?
Mark: She did manage to get out, but it definitely changed her.
Me: And the house?
Mark: At the end, the creatures did chase her into reality, and they and one “twisted one” (that her grandma had trapped in the house before) tried to destroy her. But long story short, she knocked over a lamp and the house was set on fire. And she just hightailed it out of here–she was like, “bye!”
Me: So it was just another Tuesday. Did she tell anyone about this?
Mark: No, because no one would believe her.
Me: So now she’s the “crazy grandma!”
Mark: Yep. All she told her dad is that there were intruders who came into the house.
Me: And then she was living with this new understanding.
Mark: She was knowing that there’s more to the world than really meets the eye.
Me: Ok. This was obviously based on a true story.
Not obviously. Not at all.
Me: Do you believe in any of this? Because I have a lot of weird beliefs.
Mark: I have a lot of weird beliefs, too. Ummm...I’m always curious about weird things. I do wonder where all these myths came from, like, why is it that in Celtic and Northern English culture there’s all this fairy lore? Were they a real group of people native to the islands who settled in the forest? Or, what was it?
Mark is a seeker of truths.
Me: So, yes or no–fairies are real.
Mark: Hmm....I’d like to think they are?? I don’t know.
Me: I’ll write down “yes.” Yes or no–”crazy” people might not always be “crazy?”
Mark: Yes. They might not be crazy; maybe they have a reason why they do the
things they do.
Me: Ironically, they might be more rational than the people calling them “crazy” to begin with.
Me: I’m glad we had this talk.
We paused for a moment.
Me: And would you recommend this book?
Mark: Absolutely. It was great–and funny. There were actually parts where I laughed out loud.
Me: I like that. It’s not your typical horror novel.
Me: Well, I think we’re good here.
Mark: Thanks so much.
Thank you, Mark.