Excerpt from The Twistrose Key by Tone Almhjell, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Twistrose Key

by Tone Almhjell

The Twistrose Key by Tone Almhjell
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Oct 2013, 336 pages
    Sep 2014, 384 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Jennifer G Wilder

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

She turned the cellar key in its lock and opened the door slowly. Dank air oozed up from below, thick with rot and chemicals. All she could make out was a dented flashlight on the wall, and three tapering steps dissolving into black. She picked the flashlight off its peg, turned it on, and closed the door behind her, muffling the violins. Below, she could hear the river mumbling by, gusting chilly air up the stairwell. The draft was so cold that Lin's breath made frost clouds. With a shudder she followed the dust-speckled beam down the stairs. At the landing, the light fell on an animal skull on the banister. It had cracked teeth and large, tilted eye sockets. Lin hesitated for a moment. What sort of old lady would nail skulls to her banisters? But she pressed on, and when she reached the final step and learned the truth about their landlady's "little hobby," it all made sense.

She was watched by a hundred eyes.

Among the usual clutter of boxes and crates, there were animals everywhere. Cats curled up on barrels, ferrets peeking out between mildewed coats, and falcons strung up under the crossbeams of the ceiling. They were all positioned to glower at Lin with their glass bead eyes, and they were all dead.

Mrs. Ichalar was a taxidermist.

The old woman's workbench stood right next to the stairs, cluttered with hooks and scoops and bone cutters, and several bottles of a clear liquid that might explain the chemical smell. Lin took a deep, icy breath, annoyed at how hard she was shivering. A troll hunter did not back away at a little creepiness! Taxidermied animals looked grisly, but they couldn't hurt her. "Calm down," she whispered to herself. "And bring your brain to the party!"

That's what her father always said if she got impatient with a riddle, and he was right. She would not solve the mystery if she didn't keep her head clear.

With both hands on the flashlight, she looked again, more carefully, letting the beam rove around the room. There had to be a reason why the two keys had arrived together. One to unlock the cellar door, and the other . . . The flashlight beam found the back of the cellar. It was overgrown with pale, wet, ghostly roots. They had broken through near the ceiling and crawled down the wall in a tangled mass, crumbling the mortar and splitting the bricks. In the center of the wall, the roots shied away to make an open circle, and in that naked patch, two fissures met and formed an oddly shaped crack. Lin could swear it resembled a keyhole.

She had of course expected to find the keyhole in a door, or a cupboard, or a painted chest. But gold didn't always mean gold. At least the strange crack deserved a closer look. She crossed the rough floorboards, where the river showed through between the gaps. All the boxes that had been stacked in the back lay toppled on the floor, pushed away by the roots. Lin shoved them aside so she could see the entire shrub.

The roots were not pale and wet after all, they were coated in rime. Lin frowned up at the holes, to where the roots had broken through the bricks. If her mapping skills did not deceive her, this wall lay directly beneath the front door—and the rosebush outside. For the first time that evening, it occurred to Lin to wonder why Mrs. Ichalar's flower bed was covered with frost.

The cold seemed to radiate from the bare, circular patch. Lin leaned forward to study it. Yes. Her first impression had been right: The oddly shaped crack definitely looked like a large, ragged keyhole. One point to Miss Rosenquist! She lifted the Twistrose key for measure.

The roots stirred.

Lin gave a cry and lurched backward, stumbling over a crate, pricking her finger on the thorns of the key. A single bead of blood pushed out. She sucked at it, staring hard at the wall. Roots couldn't stir, could they? It may have seemed like they had reached for her, but there had to be some other explanation. Maybe the storm? Maybe it rattled the rosebush hard enough for the tremors to reach all the way belowground? She got to her feet and raised the key again, waving it back and forth in front of the shrub from a safe distance. Nothing.

Excerpted from The Twistrose Key by Tone Almhjell. Copyright © 2013 by Tone Almhjell. Excerpted by permission of Dial Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

One-Month Free Membership

Discover your next great read here

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Rules of Magic
    The Rules of Magic
    by Alice Hoffman
    Alice Hoffman's Rules of Magic is the long-awaited prequel to one of her most cherished novels,...
  • Book Jacket: Good Me Bad Me
    Good Me Bad Me
    by Ali Land
    Is a psychopath born or made? This is the terrifying question that author Ali Land explores in her ...
  • Book Jacket: Five-Carat Soul
    Five-Carat Soul
    by James McBride
    In the short story "Sonny's Blues," from the 1965 collection Going to Meet the Man, African-...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

An eye-opening and riveting look at how how medicine can not only improve life but also the process of its ending.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Never Coming Back
    by Alison McGhee

    A moving exploration of growing up and growing old, and the ties that bind parents and children.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Wisdom of Sundays

The Wisdom of Sundays
by Oprah Winfrey

Life-changing insights from super soul conversations.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

A Good M I H T F

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.