The Twisted Ones written by T. Kingfisher (pseudonym of Ursilla Vernon)
Let me begin by saying knocking against a house in the middle of the night is NEVER a woodpecker, no matter how much a character may hope it to be.
That said, The Twisted Ones is told in a humorous first person by “Mouse” as, with the help of her faithful hound Bongo, she cleans out her horrible hoarder grandmother’s house. (How’s that for alliteration?) As she does so, she discovers her step-grandfather’s journal, looks for a lost manuscript, and discovers some creepy secrets. Luckily for her, she also befriends some aging hippies, including the irrepressible and resourceful Foxy.
The Twisted Ones is T. Kingfisher’s (pseudonym for Ursilla Vernon) take on Arthur Machen’s 1904 short story “The White People.” If you’re familiar with Machen’s story, the influence becomes apparent early on in The Twisted Ones. It has a healthy dose of folklore, charming interaction between the heroine and her pooch, a truly great friend, and just enough of the Gothic influences and nods to H.P. Lovecraft to keep horror fans interested. There was an instance of stereotyping that made me a bit cringy (Mouse expresses a supposition that the police officer is uneducated or lacking intelligence simply because he’s from a small town), and the narrator twists her words around to provide a lot of repetition (which was distracting and a bit annoying, though it might have been used to give insight into the stresses Mouse experiences.) However, there were also some wonderful quotes, including: “Monsters are stressful…” and “…maybe it was just perfectly innocent devil worship….” and “Families run on optimistic lies sometimes…” and overall, it was an enjoyable story.
I participated in the Ladies of Horror Readalong of this book and borrowed this book from my local library to do so.