I picked up The Twisted Tree because it was a) cheap, b) fairly short and c) set in Norway. It sounded interesting and the cover art helped a little too. I was intrigued how the setting would interact with the story and to that point I hadn’t read much set in Scandinavia. I admit points a & b appealed because I felt I was falling behind on my Reading Challenge and needed a bump; nevertheless I ended up enjoying the book more than I expected.
We follow a young teen, Martha, who has had an accident leaving her blind in one eye and with some facial scarring. Not only that, she has begun to sense things whenever she touches others’ clothes: feelings, memories & intent. Her accident happened at her Grandmother’s cabin in northern Norway, when falling out of a big tree that her Grandmother tends to, and she hasn’t been back since. After writing her Grandmother a host of un-replied letters asking about her new found sense, she travels to the cabin my herself.
What she finds when she gets to the cabin isn’t what she was hoping for. She meets Stig, a teenage boy who has also run away from home, and together they face some terrible monsters – both real and metaphorical – before Martha has to truly embrace her new ‘condition’ in order to save their lives.
This is a well-written supernatural tale that anyone with even a passing interest in Norse mythology should pick up. It isn’t quite ‘horror’ and it isn’t quite ‘coming of age’ but the book does have elements of both. It deals with a line of women who have a shared heritage to protect and what might happen if the chain through the generations is broken. It also looks at the repairing of mother-daughter relationships and, in particular, where the child is guiding the adult through a complicated situation.
The character building by Burge is very good and the story is well-paced and engaging. It is a quick read at 180 pages and still a perfectly formed story that left me wondering where these characters would end up next.