The Crooked Mask (sequel to The Twisted Tree)
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The Crooked Mask (sequel to The Twisted Tree)

4.05 (596 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

Part ghost story, part murder mystery - a creepy and magical tale steeped in Norse myth, perfect for fans of Neil Gaiman.

Welcome to the Circus of Myth & Mayhem - where performers re-enact tales of the Norse gods wearing masks which mysteriously change expression, the creepy jester isn't quite human, and the big top is full of the dead.
Martha arrives at the circus, deep in the forests of Northern Norway, determined to learn how Nina died. Did she fall from the trapeze as Stig said, or was there more to her 'accident?'
Drawn into a dangerous game of the gods, Martha must look behind the mask and see the truth . . . before it's too late.

Following the events of THE TWISTED TREE, THE CROOKED MASK continues the story of Martha and Stig as she comes to terms with her magical inheritance.

Praise for The Twisted Tree
A creepy and evocative fantasy likely to make readers wary of the shadows in the corner of an eye, The Sunday Times
Rattles along with proper page-turning pace, The Daily Express
Creepy and amazing, MTV UK
Creates an atmosphere of Stephen King intensity, The Irish Examiner
A terrific read - twisty and scary and instantly gripping, Waterstones (Exeter Roman Gate)
A ghost story that will get under the skin of the most hardened reader, Starburst Magazine
The perfect book for cold and wintry nights, prepare to be chilled to your very bones, Culturefly
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Product details

  • Paperback | 288 pages
  • 129 x 198 x 21mm | 250g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1471409201
  • 9781471409202
  • 187,620

Review quote

The Twisted Tree is a romantic, creepy, hugely atmospheric story. I loved it. * L.A. Weatherly * I really enjoyed this book - well written, an original idea, with an unusual setting and some fantastic moments. Martha is a great character and I like the fact that she isn't an automatic hero, that her bravery isn't a given. * NM Browne, author of WOLF BLOOD * Creepy and amazing * MTV UK * The Twisted Tree is billed as a YA novel, but don't let that fool you - this is a ghost story that will get under the skin of the most hardened reader. It's a slow burner that makes fantastically creepy use of its isolated Norwegian setting, and expertly combines Nordic mythology with the supernatural. In many ways, it feels a bit like Neil Gaiman's Coraline collided with Catherine Storr's Marianne Dreams, with a smidgen of Beowulf thrown in for good measure * Starburst Magazine * Rachel Burge presents us with a stunning intermingling of Norse mythology, horror, and an unusual coming of age. Hauntingly beautiful descriptions, juxtaposed against a ramping relentless sense of peril. Wonderfully eerie, deliciously frightening, a perfect story for a dank and windy night in front of the fire * Bookbag * Its dark and ominous and the perfect quick read for those who want some eerie goodness on a weeknight. The fact that I opened it, sat down and read for 3 hours straight (minor breaks because my heart can't take creepy) on a night when I have 5000+ other things I should be occupying myself with solidifies my belief that this should get a perfect score * Close Encounters of the Paper Kind * So compelling and creepy, and would make a perfect Halloween or wintery read * Library of Books and Tea * Brilliantly effective at creating a slow, creeping atmosphere that made me feel chilled even when sitting in a room filled with lots of people. Fantastic writing! * Chrikaru Reads * This is the perfect story for the dark nights which will come before spring and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys thrillers which are atmospheric rather than gory. A beautiful and haunting tale * Book Murmuration * The spooky descriptions of the cabin and its surrounds are like an Arthur Rackham illustration melted into words; the mixture of Norse mythology and horror creates an atmosphere of Stephen King intensity, while at the same time we witness a slowburning and credible relationship between two very damaged but likeable protagonists * Irish Examiner * A creepy and evocative fantasy * Sunday Times * The dark, cold month of January is the perfect backdrop to this wonderfully chilling new novel * Viva Lewes * The Crooked Mask, sequel to The Twisted Tree, is a gripping follow-up from writer Rachel Burge. The story keeps you hooked from start to finish, a novel to claim the attention of thrill-seekers and mystery buffs. The story finds Martha arriving at the Circus of Myth & Mayhem where performers re-enact legends from Norse mythology. Here, she encounters mysterious beings including the villainous Jester, who holds many secrets. Martha's telepathic abilities and relations with the Norse gods are tested as she slowly uncovers the truth behind Nina's death, ex-girlfriend to her lover Stig, who now haunts her and her mother as a disturbed apparition.

With an eerie setting, layered mythology and a devious mystery at her disposal, Burge creates effective tension. The storyline continuously re-contextualises itself with each twist. Our perceptions of the circus employees, as well as characters close to Martha, are constantly changing and this raises your curiosity effortlessly.

Martha makes for a likeable and layered protagonist. Memorable moments include when she uses her powers to get closer to the truth to find justice for Nina, but also peace for her mother. At 278 pages, not a single chapter feels wasted and each paragraph peels back the circus residents' importance to the story as well as unearthing horror within the
plot.


The novel's minor flaw is that due to the mysteriousness of the story, some characters within the circus feel empty with little motivation outside of their roles in the circus, but this is a rarity to a few characters and most are given relatable goals that make them interesting to uncover.

Overall, The Crooked Mask serves as an impressive tale, with elements sure to please fans of Burge's previous works but also serving as an absorbing novel for new readers. * Paper Lanterns Lit * Then I read The Twisted Tree. The first book to make me feel fear. I was scared - but not in a cover my face, something is going to jump out at me kind of scared, but a I can feel this in the pit of my stomach kind of scared. FINALLY! Thankfully, The Crooked Mask gives me exactly the same feeling, except...worse. The sequel scared me so much more, probably something to do with the carnival/circus-y vibe...gives me the creeps. One night I was reading it quite late, we're talking like 2am, and when I put it down I was genuinely scared of turning my light out.
As I said earlier, myth and legend woven into fiction is very much my jam (I even wrote my undergrad dissertation on how myth, legend and folklore impact world-building in fantasy novels)! Norse myth is one I hadn't come across up until reading The Twisted Tree so I didn't know much about it, and it prompted me to go out a few days later and buy Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman to read more into them. I just think it's a sign of a really good, well-written book when it can not only hook you into the story, but also capture your interest and make you go out and learn more about the background it uses. On that note, I love that in The Twisted Tree, Burge is fantastic at making it the mythical aspects of the story engaging even if you know absolutely nothing about Norse myth. It could have been really easy to alienate readers by diving too deep into the myths. But because, as a reader, we get to learn along with Martha, it's all the more enthralling. That being said, I really like that The Crooked Mask took a deeper dive, and we're getting to learn more about the myths, especially the Gods, and how they come into play in Martha's life.
So, on to the things I would have liked to see differently in these two books. Honestly, there isn't much. But there are a couple of things that nagged at me about them. In The Twisted Tree, the setting, the atmosphere, and the character building was really strong for me. Martha was really interesting and not totally likeable, which I quite like in a main character, and I loved following the journey as she worked through the grief of losing her Grandmother and learning to accept herself and how she looks. But I felt like her relationship with Stig just didn't hit it for me. It felt too rushed and it kind of pulled me out of the hold that Martha had on me. I think the point that the relationship was left at was excellent, and it provided a really good springboard for the beginning of The Crooked Mask, so I think the events of The Twisted Tree could have potentially done with being a little more spread out, so that their relationship didn't seem so forced. Speaking of the beginning of The Crooked Mask, I wish it had started just a little earlier. I was really craving to have gone through the events of Nina haunting Martha and her Mother at home at the beginning, rather than just having Martha talk about it, and I think it would have provided a really good way to characterise her Mother a little more, because I was really intrigued by her reluctance toward her heritage and struggle to accept it for Martha that we got a glimpse of in The Twisted Tree. But for me, my only problem with The Crooked Mask is that I wanted more of that character building that I loved in The Twisted Tree. I wanted more of the Mother, I wanted more of Nina, and most of all I wanted more of Martha.
I absolutely love both of these books, and give them both a rating of 4.5 of out 5! Would definitely recommend to anyone that loves a bit of horror, myth, and magic in their reads, and if you're looking for some autumn-y, Halloween-y books for the upcoming months, these are definitely the right vibe! * Feeling Hopeful *
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About Rachel Burge

Rachel Burge works as a freelance feature writer and has written for a variety of websites, including BBC Worldwide, Cosmo, and MTV. She lives in East Sussex with her partner, son, and black Labrador Biff. She is fascinated by Norse myth and swears she once saw a ghost.She is on Twitter (@RachelABurge), Facebook (RachelBurge) and Instagram (rachelburgewriter) and Pinterest (burge0709) Her website is rachelburge.co.uk
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Rating details

596 ratings
4.05 out of 5 stars
5 37% (219)
4 37% (223)
3 21% (126)
2 4% (22)
1 1% (6)
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