Rating: 3 out of 5.

When I started reading the fantasy-fiction novel “The Twisted Tree” by Rachel Burge, I thought the protagonist was in her late 20s or early 30s. However, as the story progressed, the seventeen-year-old Martha started to sound like an immature teen struggling to come to terms with her newly discovered power of reading people’s past and thoughts when she touches their clothes. But she is usually more concerned about how the loss of one eye in a freak accident has made her “ugly.”

As the title suggests, “The Twisted Tree” revolves around a mysterious tree growing outside Martha’s mormor’s (Norwegian for grandma) cabin. Martha lives in the UK with her divorced mum and visits her beloved mormor in Norway, claiming she is going to her dad’s. However, when she arrives in her snowy, isolated Norwegian village, she finds a strange boy at her mormor’s cabin. To make things worse, the dead may be rising from the tree outside her cabin, and Martha needs to find a way to fight them.

While the primary premise of the novel is very interesting, author Rachel Burge borrows elements from Norse mythology to make the story so grand in scale, that the unfolding events feel extremely underwhelming. Most of the plot revolves around Martha and the stranger boy who she meets and a very ridiculous romance brews between the two. Ridiculous because it just doesn’t blend well with the circumstances or mood of the larger conflicts. The love story against the horror-fantasy themes is superficial, with zero chemistry between the characters. Martha likes the boy because he is “hot”, boy likes Martha because he has a thing for weird chicks, or maybe simply because he is a hormonal 17-year-old trapped in the middle of nowhere with only one available girl.

One of the climactic scenes was eerily similar to a sequence in Harry Potter where he uses a Patronus Charm against dementors. Although I haven’t read or seen anything related to Harry Potter since 2007, I still noticed the similarities. Some parts of the book were enjoyable, so I will be slightly generous with my rating.

It’s a 3 on 5 from me. You can read the ebook on Kindle Unlimited.

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