Twisted Sisters by Kimber Leigh Wheaton
(The Orion Circle #2)
Published: October 27th, 2015 by Sea Dragon Press
Genres: Young adult, paranormal, mystery, horror
Trigger Warnings: depictions of torture, murder, gore, violence
Pages: 170 pages
**I received this book from Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.**
It’s a child’s toy—what could go wrong?
While playing with a spirit board, two sorority sisters summon the vindictive spirits of three women brutally murdered by a psychopath. Join Logan, Kacie, and the rest of the Orion Circle as they delve into the disturbing events of the past to find the key to freeing the spirits.
But this isn’t any ordinary haunting. These ghosts were banished before, and now they have returned more powerful than anyone could have imagined. Anger breeds hatred and hatred leads to darkness—these phantoms are on the verge of losing their last spark of humanity and becoming completely lost to the shadows.
Can Logan and Kacie convince the tortured souls to embrace the light and move on, or will the spirits succumb to the hypnotic pull of evil, leading to an eternity of torment and suffering?
When it comes to haunted houses, I am absolutely not the one. I’ve been known to literally break out into a sprint during those walk-through mazes, so I definitely would not be able to face anything that Kimber Leigh Wheaton’s The Orion Circle deals with on a regular basis. However, there does become a threshold in which “2spoopy” starts to become “too much,” even for people with much more sturdier constitutions than myself. Combined with a randomly-expanding plot and some activation of God Mode, Twisted Sisters might not be for the faint of heart — or with a low tolerance for over-powered characters.
This second installment of The Orion Circle series can be read as a standalone, but focuses on a lot of the same characters from Wheaton’s previous novel, Tortured Souls. In this, the titular Circle — composed of a group of people with various psychic and supernatural abilities — being called upon to handle a severe haunting at a local sorority house. However, with newcomer Kacie not only learning how to get a hold on her recently-discovered powers, but also her newly-developing love life with fellow Circle member Logan, her mind’s not exactly in the right place. The spirits grow stronger and stronger in their wrath with every passing encounter; it’s only a matter of time until the spectral sisters make someone else join their undead family.
Let’s get this minor gripe out of the way first: I really dislike when a book is advertised as a standalone, despite existing as part of a series. Since I was tasked with only reading Twisted Sisters, I did exactly that, but ended up finding myself stumbling within the first few chapters because there were many call backs to the previous book that did not make sense out of context. If you claim your book can stand on its own, make sure that it can actually do so.
As mentioned before, there are certain points of the book that seem to get a little excessive. Upon further reflection, it’s almost as if Wheaton is unsure how to proceed with just “middle of the road”: everything’s done to the extreme. The jealousy issues that crop up between Kacey and Logan are extreme, despite only entering into the relationship briefly before the start of the book. The level of power between the newly re-awakened sisters is extreme, causing severe and life-threatening injuries to members of the Orion Circle. Conversely, the attacks against the psychics from the sisters should have flat out killed them, but there’s something about their supernatural powers that gives them that extra little bit of indestructibility. In the role-playing realm, we call that activating God Mode. Writers may recognize these traits as being Mary Sue-ish. I’m just pointing them out as food for thought.
As mentioned previously, the attacks that the spirits launch against our protagonists are brutal. Heavy furniture is dropped onto people, there’s falling down multiple flights of stairs, possessions — the works. It’s enough to make weaklings like myself start to feel a little queasy at the thought. However, all of that pales in comparison to the horrors wrought upon the sisters by their torturer back when they were alive. When reading some of the depictions of their murders, I felt a little thrown knowing that mere pages before, I was reading what was supposed to be a slightly spookier-than-average paranormal romance. I can kind of see what Wheaton was going for in wanting to stress exactly how horribly the sisters were murdered, but I definitely was not prepared. Again, I think that there are a few marketing issues with this book given its target audience.
There are some redeeming qualities to this book, though. As things progressed, I did find myself moving quickly through the story, intrigued as to exactly how far the Circle would go to rid themselves of these supernatural pests. Once Wheaton has you interested, it’s hard to put the story down; it really feels like a lot happens within the svelte 170 pages, but not overwhelmingly so. I do think that Wheaton’s strengths lie within her descriptions, because it’s very simple to picture exactly what she’s writing out. It truly was an exercise in showing, not telling, which is a hard thing for most authors to accomplish.
Overall, I don’t know if I have it in me to rate this book higher. I felt like it erred far too much on the side of extremity and almost crossed into adult territory from how severe some of the horror elements were. Furthermore, some of the characters in the story were far too powerful for their age and assumed abilities, which is infinitely frustrating. However, the story is a quick read, so at least the discomfort is over fast. Meanwhile, I’m off to retreat to Cotton Candy Land where nothing is ever scary ever.