The Twistrose Key
by Tone Almhjell
Dial Books for Young Readers (Penguin)
ages 10 and up
Premise: Lin Rosenquist is an eleven-year-old girl who’s struggling with several kinds of sadness. Her family recently moved from their farm at Summerhill to a creepy, drafty house in the city. Lin had to leave behind her best friend, and to make matters worse, her pet died. She’s feeling very much alone on the stormy night when a mysterious key finds its way into her hands. It leads Lin into Sylver, a magical world that’s in grave danger. She soon learns that she is the newest Twistrose, a child chosen to save this wintery world.
Personal Opinion: I grew up in a largely Scandinavian town in Minnesota, so returning to a place with snow drifts, toboggans, northern lights, and rice pudding was a delicious dip into nostalgia. Lin makes an appealing heroine who knows how to “bring her brain to the party.” I was as pleased as her newfound-old friend Rufus whenever she put on her quizzy face.
My biggest criticism of the story may not bother other readers. In describing the world around Lin, Almhjell leaves very little to the imagination. The plot’s pacing suffers from the early abundance of details. However, once things do pick up, there’s action aplenty. Nightmares. Trolls. Foreboding prophecies. Missing persons. While I was a teensy bit disappointed that the event I was anticipating most only amounted to one hasty scene, The Twistrose Key’s ultimate resolution left me with a satisfied smile on my face. And an eagerness for more stories in this amazing world.
With blood on her thorns she must creep through the wall.
When the last hope is lost, a Twistrose is called.
Perks: This has to be one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever picked up. Midnight blue and embossed gold, woodcut-style art at the head of each chapter, and a Wilder inspired flyleaf. Many props to illustrator Ian Schoenherr. After you’ve read the story, do check out Tone Almhjell’s website. She shares pictures of the places in Norway that inspired Summerhill and Sylver. (And of her pets, of course.)
Rating: The greatest glory of this story has to be Almhjell’s world-building. Who wouldn’t fall in love with a universe in which a child’s love can give their pet another life? It was pure delight to meet walking, talking Petlings and Wilders who still harbor affection for their child. I’ll give The Twistrose Key eight of ten stars … and one point to Tone Almhjell for a memorable debut! (8 ★).
Note: Sylver and its surrounding lands are a place I want to return to. The potential for more tales in this world is endless. So I asked the author if there would be a sequel. Her answer left me with yet another smile. I can’t wait!
For more, visit Tone Almhjell’s website >>