From the Publisher
Rave reviews for The Twistrose Key
A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year
“This jewel of a story will capture your heart and your imagination…Readers should take their time and read with care to fully grasp and decipher the fresh mythology of the land of Sylver. It’ll leave you gasping, laughing, and maybe shedding a tear or two.” —The New York Journal of Books
“Beguiling.” —New York Times Book Review
“This debut novel will captivate readers…Fantasy that evokes the classics of yore and stands proudly among them.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“This book is pure magic. I want to live in it.” —Laini Taylor, author of the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy
“This debut novel has Narnian charm and troll-fire high adventure. I’ve never read anything quite like it, and I hope Tone Almhjell writes many more books for me to fall in love with.” —Erin Bow, author of Plain Kate
“Children entranced by animal tales and in love with snowy fantasy lands will delight in Lin’s magical journey and triumphant determination.” —Booklist
“Her story feels complete even as the world of Sylver contains enough unexplored territory to invite subsequent volumes.” —Publishers Weekly
The New York Times Book Review - Brad Leithauser
The essential premise of The Twistrose Keythat a beloved pet can be reincarnated, can be loved into a new existencegoes to the roots of myth and fairy tale. It's a theme always ripe for replenishment, as Margery Williams's classic, The Velveteen Rabbit, shows. It goes, in this case, to the roots of written literature as well: In distant Norway a nebulous image of a singular snowy kingdom was gradually loved into existence, emerging on our shores as the appealing, solid, handsomely illustrated Twistrose Key.
“Tonight, young Rosenquist... you will find that some games are real.” These portentous words, spoken early in Almhjell’s fantasy debut, launch 11-year-old Lin Rosenquist on a whirlwind, somewhat byzantine hero’s journey. Summoned from her Norwegian home by a mysterious key, Lin lands in Sylver, a wintry afterlife populated by anthropomorphized animals. Among the denizens—most were “once the favorite pet of a human child”—is Lin’s beloved vole, Rufus. Their joyful reunion (“Rufus!... You’re so...” “Handsome?... Eloquent? Alive?”) and affectionate partnership anchor the pair’s quest for Isvan, the missing boy who can restore magic to the land. Idiosyncratic characters—an avuncular hamster-chef; a sinister, condescending mad scientist–owl—help and hinder as Lin and Rufus decipher prophecies, battle trolls, and navigate Almhjell’s meticulously built world. A few dropped threads tangle the plot, and the main villain’s demeanor tends toward Bond-ian cliché, but by book’s end, strong parallels link Lin’s adventure to real-world loss and coming-of-age. Her story feels complete even as the world of Sylver contains enough unexplored territory to invite subsequent volumes. Ages 10–up. Author’s agent: Jane Putch, Eyebait Licensing & Management. Illustrator’s agent: Marcia Wernick, Wernick & Pratt. (Oct.)
Skillfully blending facets of classic high fantasy, this debut novel will captivate readers with its rich plot and detailed worldbuilding. Sylveros is populated by the formerly beloved pets of Earth children. After an animal's death on Earth, it passes over to a life of apparent harmony in the winter beauty of the Sylver Valley. While a winter setting inevitably invites Narnia comparisons, this layered plot holds its own. The peace in Sylver has been disturbed, and chief chronicler Teodor does not know why. Nightmares are threatening the protected border. In times like these, a Twistrose--a human child--is called from Earth to give aid. Lin Rosenquist, mourning her tamed pet vole, Rufus, who died some five weeks earlier, finds herself magically transported to Sylver and is met by Rufus himself, now as big as she is. Teodor tells Lin she is the Twistrose and charges her with finding Isvan Winterfyrst, a "glacial-kin" child who has mysteriously disappeared and whose presence is imperative to continue the magic that keeps Sylver safe. Lin's only clue is an ancient, nonsensical ballad. Deeply drawn characters with heart combine with meticulous details to convincingly bring readers into the fantasy world, while a revelatory ending makes this a satisfying read that may be enjoyed even more the second time around. Fantasy that evokes the classics of yore and stands proudly among them. (Fantasy. 9-13)
Read an Excerpt
On the desk, next to the typewriter, lay the parcel. It was still heavy, and when Lin shook it, something slid around inside. She emptied it into her palm.
Out tumbled two keys, held together by a thin metal band.
One was a little old and had an orange plastic tag that said “cellar.” The other was large, as large as the length of her hand, and blackened, as if someone had tried to burn it. Its head was fashioned as a petal, and the stem was that of a rose, with three curved, sharp thorns. Across the petal, there was a name engraved: “Twistrose.”