Twisted is the latest spine shivering novel from indie horror writer, Michaelbrent Collings, and it’s one hell of a contorted beast of a read, with the kind of story and delivery you might have come to expect from Stephen King. It kick in fast with chills and frights early on in the story, yet all the while building up your affinity with the central characters, which only adds to the fear factor later on in the book as the terrifying invasion into their life intensifies towards the desperate, blood curdling fever pitch ending.
Released on ebook on the 9th December 2014, it’s available on most popular e-readers, including Amazon Kindle and iBooks, and it’ll unnerve your senses in pretty quick time. However, it’s more than just a well constructed ghost story as it also asks some pretty big questions about cruelty, family, mental illness and death along the way, which gives it a lot of depth, understanding and multifaceted layers, while tieing you up in knots of tension for good measure.
The story takes place is suburban USA as the Douglas family find themselves thrown out of house and home following an insect infestation of monumental proportions. As you’d expect from a roller coaster ride of a horror story, their troubles only begin with the insects and they find that no matter where they go or what they do they can’t shake the twisted and molevolent forces that have pierced their family circle and dark forces wade over them in waves.
There are some parallel links between Twisted and Stephen King’s recent novel, Revival, in their association of insects with death, albeit in very different manifestations, which is an interesting coincidence with both books being written around the same time. Where they differ significantly is that King’s book takes a long time to get anywhere near being scary, Collings’ dark ghost story hits you right between your slightly bulging eyes early on and doesn’t let you off the hook until the very last page has been turned.
Though Twisted is undoubtedly a modern day cut of horror fiction, there’s also a little tap on the windowpane of Edgar Alan Poe territory, or even The Woman In Black, as old school darkness bleeds into present day lives. There are references to searching for information on the Internet, mobile phones, online house rentals and pizza delivery mixed in with sinister old grandfather clocks, macabre Victorian practices, wind up music boxes and black and white photos as the book uses the inherent ghostly perception we have for old artifacts to create its spectral reality.
The structure of the book is nothing short of inspired as it flits from character to character like a ghostly shade passes from host to host. It gives you insight into the inner workings of each of the main players in the book and leaves you unsure of where you’ll end up next, adding to the sense of unease and providing the author with a mechanism to move things around to create a vivid picture of the devastating developments.
Overall, Michaelbrent Collings has done a great job in building out such a searingly sinister novel that never lets you rest for a second. It makes you flip the pages quickly as you’re drawn into the unknown with the hope of some salvation for the family beset with anguish and terror, but there are a lot of unexpected grim developments in the novel to keep you second guessing, which is as you’d expect from a horror story called Twisted.
Michaelbrent Collings, Twisted review: 4.5/5