The Twisted Tree

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 10 Jan 2019

Member Reviews

Martha can read people's emotions just by touching their clothes. She has been able to since the accident, where she became blind in one eye. To find out how to deal with her ability she decides to visit her grandmother in Norway, where the accident took place. But her grandmother is dead & someone else is living in her house!

I really like how Martha's ability is described and the straight to the point conversational writing, with great picturesque flourishes. This story has you continuously guessing with its eerie intrigue and keeps you turning the pages. Evenly paced, there is no rush to the narrative, creating the spooky atmosphere as promised. With that menacing twisted tree in the middle of it all and elements of a dark myth/fairy tale.

A sense of foreboding envelopes you as things get weirder and weirder. But there is also cute feels from Martha and some of her encounters. When it needs to be suspenseful though, boy does it deliver.

I do believe the ending was a bit abrupt, but I still enjoyed the book.

Quite original with its Norwegian backdrop and elements of Nordic mythology, a tale that makes you wonder about the existence of fate.
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The Twisted Tree is about a girl named Martha who after an accident loses an eye, but gains the ability to read people's clothing. In trying to find to find out more she decides to go to visit her grandmother in Norway who she hopes will explain more. I thought the concept of reading the emotions of people by touching their clothes was fascinating, and unusual. the characters are well rounded and the Norwegian mythology weaved into the story was interesting and at times very creepy. I really liked the history of the women in the family and how it was up to the women to be strong and supportive of each other. I found myself continually questioning whether I trusted Stig and wasn't quite sure what to make of him, until the book came to an end. Overall I enjoyed the way the Norwegian winter landscape was described and the Norwegian folklore, as well as the strong bond between women, but I only wish that there was more of an explanation about the ability of touching clothes, and about Hel and the underworld, and maybe less romance between the characters that seemed to happen quite quickly.
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This is by far the creepiest book I've read in a while and it caught me off guard, I wasn't expecting it to be so paranormal but it was an extremely chilling read. The atmosphere was written so well and I regretted having this as my night-time read! It also features a lot of Norse mythology which was fun. Watching the relationship between Martha and the boy in the cabin 'Stig' evolve was really nice but it kept the thought in the back of my mind whether he could really be trusted or not, seeing as we don't really know him.

There is a certain part in the story that sets all hell loose and left me truly shocked and scared to continue reading (in a good way). The only criticism I have is that towards the end the writing seemed a bit messy and I found it hard to keep up with what was happening as it was so fast paced. Overall I would definitely recommend, especially to fans of YA horror/thrillers and Norse mythology. This was also a debut book which makes it that more impressive! I can't wait to read more by Rachel Burge in the future.
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This was an interesting book - part mythology, part ghost story, part romance. All parts were done very well, and integrated perfectly. The writing style was suitably mysterious when needed, with the details dished out gradually and with just the right pace. The characters and dialogue were realistic and believable, despite the magical aspects. Even the magical seemed like it could be entirely real. A very good read.
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Atmospheric, creepy and ultimately predictable, The Twisted Tree is like microwave mac and cheese--it does the trick just as you know it will, but it's not going to yield anything new. 

Rachel Burge's debut is hardly the first supernatural thriller to draw on mythology. Better books have taken inspiration from the larger-than-life figures of tradition, especially the Norse tradition, whose grim tales make for effective dark suspense. That said, The Twisted Tree weaves connections between lonely English teenager Martha and the old tales adeptly enough to keep average YA readers engaged.

The setting is chosen well and utilised to chilling effect. As you'd expect, the story takes place on a bleak island in the middle of nowhere, perfect for the ghosts to come out and play. At first I didn't realise Skjebne wasn't a real member of the Lofoten Islands, but created to carry the same name as the Old Norse for fate. An interesting detail with more than a touch of foreshadowing.

Martha's gift for psychometry through clothing I found quite original as far as superpowers go. By the end you'll have a primer on all the types of textile commonly found in clothing and the information she can read through them. Cashmere, for example, transmits a direct dose of its owner's emotions, while silk exposes their deceit.

Less original was the unnecessary romance subplot. I thought for a while that Rachel Bruge might go in the direction of making the love interest, whose name I can't actually remember (that tells you all you need to know about him), the villain. Sadly, the truth was much more boring, and we're left with another pitiable victim of instalove.

Overall, The Twisted Tree is a novella-sized read that gets the job done. Here's your quick supernatural fix. If you liked The Sacrifice Box or The Hazel Wood, this could be worth checking out.
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Martha has an unusual ability where she can read people from touching their clothes, as if their memories and emotions have been absorbed into the material. Her mother believes it is nonsense. In order to fully understand her ability, she sets off to visit her grandmother. When she gets there she discovers that Mormor is dead and she is left with so many unanswered questions. Strange and paranormal events start happening, and she realises her strange abilities are just the beginning.

It took me forever to read The Twisted Tree and not because I wasn’t enjoying it and not because it was a bad book (it isn’t!) but because I was in a huge reading slump which has lasted over a month. Despite this, I did enjoy reading The Twisted Tree and I enjoyed revisiting it for a little while when my mood fancied/allowed it.

I loved the Norse mythology aspect. It was really interesting as I’m not very knowledgeable on the topic but really loved the Norns and the creature and the Queen of the Underworld. I also really enjoyed the blend of the mythology and the thriller/supernatural aspect.

The Twisted Tree was well written, not because it was in-your-face-scary but it had this really great subtle eerie vibe to it, and the snowy Norweigan setting really added to that. That, and the mythology, is what kept fetching me back to it despite the horrible slump I was in. I did enjoy Martha as a character, but she wasn’t really the highlight of the book for me. The romance was also not my favourite part but far from terrible! Overall, I did really enjoy the story and the mythology.
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So, I'd heard a lot about this book leading up to its release and I was really excited to be given a copy by the publisher and NetGalley to review, so thank you! I was incredibly excited for a spooky tale set in Norway, and the timing of the release (and my subsequent reading of it) in winter was absolutely perfect. Ostensibly, this book had everything that I loved and would possibly want from a creepy, thrilling, mythology-based read. In fact, I was so prepared to be so terribly freaked out that I didn't even let myself read it at night. Unfortunately, I didn't find it that enthralling or that chilling... instead, I found it a combination of disquieting, confusing, and disappointingly underdeveloped. 

The premise is that Martha, having suffered from a horrible accident involving a tree at her grandmother's house in a remote area of Norway, has been blinded in one eye... and has gained, subsequently, the ability to "read" the clothing of the people around her. When her Mormor (grandmother) ceases communication with her after this accident and Martha realises that her mother has been burning her grandmother's correspondence, she sets out for this remote little isle to get answers for herself-- and that brings us to the very beginning of the story, with Martha at the airport, running for her flight and arriving at her grandmother's house, to hear the news that her grandmother is dead and to find a strange boy sleeping in the house. There are things-- terrible, threatening things-- in the darkness outside and the isolation of the snow and distance and she strikes up an alliance with Stig, the strange boy, who had simply been looking for a place to run away to after problems in his own life. Martha finds a trunk of her own family's history left to her in her grandmother's house, along with a spinning wheel that moves itself, and the directives to make sure to water the old twisted tree out on the outskirts of the property-- the tree where Martha ended up injured in the first place. The dead rise, the safety of the world is threatened, and myths and gods come to life. 

Things I Loved:
- The idea of clothing reading was super cool to me-- I love sewing and crafty stuff and the whole idea that different types of cloth would have different compositions or personalities was fantastic. 
- Norse mythology was well-integrated. From the immediate Odin reference (Martha and her eye and Odin the All-Father, One-Eyed) in the premise to the stuff that comes out more gradually, I think the way it was incorporated was well done. 
- Martha read like a teenage girl who had been through a lot. A lot of times, modern teenage voices in a modern world read like worldly and experienced 30 year olds, so it was refreshing to see someone unsure of herself and so consistent in her narrative voice.

Things I Liked:
- The aesthetic of Norway + winter + snowstorms + dead rising was all great, especially in the middle of a light snow storm while I was reading it, was really cool. I think it fit the vibe of the cover and really struck a cool note.
- It was a quick read. I think it took me about two hours total (with interruptions) to blow through it. 
- Stig and his mystery seemed like a neat twist and gave their immediate relationship a bit more to question. He was just a really interesting character, though I found him wildly inconsistent (...not in a good, intriguing way) at times. 

Things I Didn't Like:
- The back and forth of the relationship with Stig was really, really bizarre at the end of the book. I get that there's inconsistency and we're supposed to be confused and left wondering about the real motivations and whatnot as readers, but to me, it was the last ten pages of a book and I had whiplash from all the back and forth that Martha had in those last few pages. "Nah, he's a great guy, I swear mom!" to "Actually he's possibly a wanted man with a split personality coat" was a bit much for me... and I love conflicted/morally grey characters.
- It *was* creepy at times for sure-- and then the paragraph would end and there would be a moment that shattered that nicely built illusion of skin-tingling terror. Example (of my own hyperbolic response, not from the book): "This is a sentence that is chilling and hair-raising and I'm talking about the dead rising and there's this gnarled tree and I'm possibly hallucinating shadows that are ghosts and these are my words. IT WAS SCARY." See, I was scared *before* the paragraph ended with the description of being told it was scary. The curling nails around doors and blowing out candles to keep hidden from the risen dead IS SCARY. There were too many moments were legitimately creepy bits of writing were ruined by a moment of unnecessary intervention and the vibe was ruined. I finished this book at 1am and immediately went to sleep.... and I have the world's most overactive imagination. 
- The scene with Hel at the end was SO FRUSTRATING. I love Norse mythology. Hel is incredible and her invocation in the story was literally a high point for me. I found Martha's literal descent to challenge Hel so exciting and reiminiscent of the story of Ishtar and I was ALL IN. And then she gets there and it's literally the most anti-climatic interaction ever. It was the first time I've ever been disappointed in a representation of ANYTHING involving Hel-- and I've been legitimately obsessed with her since I studied Norse mythology as a 16 year old and did my senior art project of "a self portrait in the image of the goddess Hel." 
- It felt like the story didn't take its time. It was a quick read, which was great, but this story could have been an epic.
- I can't speak to this very much as a person with sight, but as a disabled person, I found the trope of "person endures an injury that renders them "disfigured/disabled" and as a result gets superpowers" to be super problematic, especially in this case. Even as a reference to Odin and gaining knowledge through taking out his own eye, and even giving the character credit for being *allowed* to feel however she wants after going through her experience (feeling insecure/less than/unstable/ugly).... it was done in a way that was just a bit cringe-worthy to me.

If you're after a quick winter read, this might be the book for you. If you love Norse mythology, this could be a nice read to pick up. If you like some creepy tropes and want to scare yourself, then this might be an option. But for me, it fell flat in a lot of different areas, leaving me overall a bit "meh" about the whole thing. I would give it 2.5/5 stars.
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~ I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review ~ 

Gripping me right from the very beginning, this book was one of the rare stories that kept me reading into the early hours of the morning; I just could not put it down.

Suspenseful and atmospheric, this creepy tale centres itself around Martha, a young teen with an odd ability – she can sense people’s emotions just by touching their clothes. She longs to understand why she can do such a bizarre thing, and believes her grandmother may be able to assist her with all her unanswered questions, so sets off on a journey to Norway. However, things go from strange to downright scary once she arrives…

Nordic mythology is not something I had personally seen in literature before, so I found it refreshing. It made it such an original storyline, ultimately meaning you couldn’t predict what would happen next, adding to the thrill factor. The pacing was quick so often kept you on your toes, and although obviously the more exciting aspects of books are the action scenes, even the ‘calm before the storm’ moments were interesting to read.

Martha was such a fascinating character; after being left partially blind due to an accident she finds herself cursed with the power to see people’s secrets and emotions through touching their clothes. She truly is a complex character, believing that she is some sort of monster who could never be loved, and you honestly feel for her. There is a visible shift in her personality, and this growth is so lovely to witness, as she changes from this vulnerable girl to a brave, badass main character.

Genuinely enjoyed this book, looking forward to a potential sequel.
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The Twisted Tree was an atmospheric winter read, isolating the teenage protagonist on a remote Norwegian island as horrors stalk in the frozen woods around her. The story is slow burning and carries a very eerie feel, starting with the portentous final request of a dying old woman and slowly weaving a ghost story deeply rooted in Norse mythology. While I felt that the author could have done a little more to introduce the reader to some of the mythological characters referenced in the tale, for someone who is already a fan of these legends it builds into a creepy and atmospheric tale.

By the half-way point, I found that I was utterly hooked by Martha's tale. I was desperate to learn what the significance of the tree was, what had caused Martha to fall, if Stig was entirely on the level and what the "wolf" that had been sighted in the woods really was. The isolated setting subtly fit the mood of the tale, creating a world that seemed bright and homely when Martha's Mormor was alive but became harsh and unforgiving while she grieved. Martha's narrative lacks descriptions but is very easy to follow, carrying the right amount of angst to make her sympathetic without being irritating.

Yet, as the story reached its final act, I did feel that it lost something. Without spoiling too much, I felt that the ending was a bit too neat. While it wasn't entirely sunshine and roses, it was no where near as bleak as the opening chapter made it sound. Perhaps it was just a little rushed, tying up most of the loose ends very quickly with no real ramifications for Martha's family allowing the tree to be damaged.

Yet, despite my gripes, it is hard for me to fault the personal level that the story operated on. Beneath the ghost story, it was a tale of female empowerment. While male characters in The Twisted Tree are largely formed, the female ones are strong. We see glimpses of Martha's family going back for generations and, in her darkest hour, it is from their stories that Martha draws power.

Although Martha begins the story feeling withdrawn due to her perceived deformity, she gradually learns throughout the course of the book that her life is what she makes it. Through a common ground that she shares with a certain mythological character, she learns that it's up to her to write her own story and that no person's fate is entirely set in stone. I personally loved this message and think that it will certainly resonate with young female readers.

However, I was not entirely onboard with her rather hurried relationship with Stig. They fall in love shockingly quickly, despite the fact that he is a complete stranger and Martha is grieving. The novel also left some aspects of Stig's backstory a little open and I personally would have liked some more closure. It does not feel as though this is the start of the series and I'm left feeling a little uncertain about how to feel about him.

Anyhow, I think that about covers it. While The Twisted Tree is not perfect, it is an atmospheric tale with a strong message. It is certainly going to stay with me for a long time.
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The Twisted Tree is a very thrilling combination of family secrets, love and nordic myths. I really liked the description of the tree and its various beings. Also, the very twisted family story is very captivating. Great wintry read!
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3.5 stars

Ever since the day Martha fell from the tree outside her grandmother's house, she has been blind in one eye. Martha may have lost part of her sight, but she gained the ability to feel someone's emotions and see their memories by touching their clothes.
Wanting answers about her new ability, Martha travels to Norway to see her grandmother, Mormor. 
Instead, Martha discovers that Mormor is dead and a strange boy is living in her house. To make things worse a creature is roaming the woods . . .

The Twisted Tree was a creepy, atmospheric read. 
Martha was a likeable protagonist and I thought her power was an interesting one.
I felt sorry for Stig and I couldn't decide whether to trust him or not.
The plot was intriguing and held my attention, but there were a couple of things that bugged me.
I liked the Norse mythology that was included.
The setting really added to the creepiness.
The writing style was easy to follow and I thought the author did a good job of making scenes tense.

Overall this was an enjoyable, spooky read.
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The Twisted Tree is a quick, dark read that had me hooked from beginning to end!

The characters are interesting and believable and I could feel the cold beauty of the setting in stark contrast to the cosy warmth of Mormor’s cabin.

It is the plot that really entranced me though: a compelling blend of modern YA adventure/romance with Norse mythology, some classic horror elements and a distinct Gothic flavour. I love how Martha’s injury is both modern, in her concern about how boys react to it, and steeped in the mythology around which the tale is woven.

The horror elements are more psychological than gory, with shadows and symbolism everywhere, and the very primitive dreads of death and darkness which have obsessed humanity since stories began.

Highly recommended for older teens upwards, and personally one of my favourites so far this year! My only criticism is that I need to know what happened with the mysterious Nina and so have everything crossed that a sequel is forthcoming soon!

I close my eyes and instantly I’m back in hospital: waking up to blackness. Just remembering the feel of the bandages on my face makes me shudder. Maybe it was the shock, but after I came round, I couldn’t stop shivering. Mum draped her jacket around my shoulders and then… even now I can’t explain. Something wrenched apart inside me, as if a gust of wind had banged a door open. I saw myself under the tree, my blonde hair caked with blood, and then I felt a rush of emotion: fear mixed with guilt and love. Feelings that I knew weren’t mine.
At first I was convinced I must have imagined it – until it happened again. After the operation they weren’t sure how much of my sight had been saved. When the doctor unfurled the bandages from my eyes, his jacket sleeve brushed my cheek. As soon as the material touched me, I saw an image of a bearded man in a reflection of a hearse window, his face pale and drawn. The man’s father had died and left everything to his new wife. My heart twisted with jealousy. I could almost taste the bitterness he felt. The doctor removed the last of my bandages and I blinked in disbelief – he was the man I had seen.

– Rachel Burge, The Twisted Tree

Review by Steph Warren of Bookshine and Readbows blog
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The Twisted Tree was a good read. It was super atmospheric and I really did enjoy Rachel Burge’s writing style. I loved the unique twists on usual mythology YA books and it managed to get a lot of interesting story into few pages. I would recommend it those who enjoy suspensive writing and new takes on mythology.

However, I felt it was a lot shorter than it should have been and when those few pages are focused on a fledgeling relationship that seems kind of pointless and still leaves loads of questions to answer, it does feel like aspects of the story are missing.
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I loved this book from start to maybe the last chapter. The ending, however, wasn’t for me and I thought that it was anti-climatic and it didn’t really do the rest of the book justice. I will say that there is a perfect mix of thrilling action and Norse mythology. I loved the way that everything happens. My heart breaks for the characters and the situation that they find themselves in, but it’s a huge reminder that there is no such thing as a coincidence. Especially when it comes to people in your life.

I think what made The Twisted Tree particularly good in my opinion was the use of Norse mythology all the way through the plot and the story. It really made a difference that it wasn’t a normal book with something scary outside that it was actually based off something in mythology. That in itself made the suspense and the thrill in this book all the better, I was actually nervous for the characters at certain points! I also think that without it, the book would have fallen flat and into the trap of being a trope-filled YA novel.

I have to mention the characters briefly, I have to say I thought the relationships weren’t massively developed and a little rushed. But I did really like the characters by themselves I thought they were intriguing on their own and I would have liked to see that developed more throughout This Twisted Tree.

So talking about tropes I do feel that there were some things in this book that were too easily resolved and some things became a trope. I wouldn’t say that they ruined the book but I was a little disappointed in the way the story went and how quickly they progressed. I would have loved for the ending to have more issues and to not be quite so neatly tied up in a bow. The Twisted Tree could have had such a better ending, I felt that there were so many questions left unanswered but not in a good way. I suppose that would be my only complaint.

If you are looking for a book that has a lot of suspense but also a lot of different plot points then this is definitely a book you should check out! I think there is definitely something really unique about the way this story is told and I haven’t read an awful lot of books like The Twisted Tree. It will definitely be on my recommendations for an interesting read!
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This is a creepy, atmospheric horror with some genuinely chilling moments that had me on the edge of my seat. Martha tries to hide from the world since an accident left her with only one eye, and a new-found ability to feel people's emotions from their clothes. Scared by this supernatural talent, she decides to run away to her Norwegian grandmother, Mormor. However, Mormor is dead and her cabin has been taken over by a strange boy.
         The scene-setting and sense of place in this novel is excellent, conjuring up the lonely island cabin, gloomy  winter days, and terrifyingly dark nights. Martha is an engaging character, questioning her sanity and attempting to deal with her unwanted 'gift' without tipping over into melodrama. The use of Norwegian words and phrases throughout the story adds to Martha's sense of confusion and isolation, and the introduction of ghosts and 'draugr' helps to bring the interweaving of Norse mythology to life. 
         All of this builds to a heart-stopping climax, with plenty of action and jump scares. Unfortunately this is also the point in the novel at which the characterisation starts to fall apart. Martha's mother suddenly accepts her own gift for reading emotions, and comes to the aid of her daughter. This is entirely at odds with her actions during the rest of the book, when she ignores Mormor dying and takes medication to stop having visions. Stig, the boy Martha finds at her grandmother's cabin, is portrayed as a kind yet damaged soul for most of the book. The end pages of the story reveal that he possibly had a hand in the death of his former girlfriend, and perhaps cannot be trusted! This left me confused and feeling that the end of the book had been rushed. Why introduce a new element to a character in the last chapter, which could potentially turn the entire story on it's head? 
        Overall, The Twisted Tree is an original blend of mythology, fantasy and horror, which should entertain and scare readers. Although the later character arcs are disappointing and may leave some readers underwhelmed, this is worth having on library shelves and has great appeal to teens.
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I went into this story not knowing quite what this book was. I didn't read the full synopsis and just saw that it was part ghost story. I was intrigued and can say with full confidence that I LOVE this book. For some reason I thought this was middle grade (maybe it is?,), but it isn't. It certainly reads like a middle grade,which is not a bad thing!It was a very fast read. I love middle grade books and should definitely read more. This reminded me of the feeling I got when I was reading Percy Jackson or any Rick Riordan book. I think it was the mythology aspect and I loved it! It was woven in perfectly into the story.

I loved the atmosphere of this book and how creepy and eerie it was. I was always expecting something to happen or a creature to jump out at Martha. The writing was really good and I found myself wanting to read the next chapter as soon as I finished one. I finished this book so quickly as a result. I finished it in a day!

I loved the main characters! I loved Martha and found she was very level headed most of the time. I find myself normally annoyed by the decisions the main characters makes,but she didn't make any stupid decisions in my opinion. I also really liked Stig,although I definitely think he has some secrets up his sleeve.

I surprisingly liked the romance! It didn't feel insta-lovely and was well developed. I found myself actually liking the two characters together and wasn't annoyed by everything they did.

I don't know if it's a standalone or a series, but I think it has much potential to be a series. If it is, I will definitely pick up the sequel.

I recommend this book to everyone but especially to fans of Rick Riordan.


This book is out today! Go and get your copy if your interested.

*Thank you to Netgalley and Hot Key books for providing an E-Arc. All opinions are my own.*
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The Twisted Tree is the perfect atmospheric read for the depth of winter. With a chilling, modern, feel of Stranger Things this needs to be on the top of everyone’s reading pile.
The characters are mysterious puzzles waiting to be worked out and you won’t want to put the book down until you have your answers.
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I was hooked from the beginning. Martha travelling alone to Mormor’s had me intrigued for many reasons and I had so many questions. I was excited for the story to unravel and couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.

The setting and pace are perfect in creating tension, atmosphere and yes … goosebumps. The darkness and shadows had substance and I could taste the fear. I loved the ancestors!

Even though Martha has Stig in Mormor’s home with her, most things she experiences alone and the quest itself ends up being hers alone (with a little help from an unexpected source). I loved that there was a spark of young romance alongside the unexplained. And humour.

I enjoyed Rachel Burge’s figurative writing, for example:

“I know Mormor and Mum kept secrets from me. They passed them back and forth to one another, like a stitch made over and over, until they became fastened into the fabric of our lives.”

How awesome is that! It is so vivid.

I’ve always been drawn to Norse myths (Jera is a Nordic rune) – Yggdrasil and the Norns come to life in this story.

The Twisted Tree is a tale of a young woman learning what her gift can do and finally using that gift to heal. Acceptance and belonging.

Outstanding read for me!
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Firstly,gorgeous cover!Really atmospheric and creepy up to about 75%.Then it got a bit silly,like when you watch Jaws and it is spoilt by the huge plastic shark.It lost all its creepiness at the end but overall ok.
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I struggled with this. 
I thought after seeing so many four and five star ratings I would love it but I just couldnt get into it.
I felt forced to read it. 
It wasn't dark or creepy as I had expected. But maybe I shouldnt of expected that.
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