The Twistrose Key

A fragile winter world depends on the child who holds the Twistrose Key.
The Twistrose Key book

About The Twistrose Key

Something is wrong in the house that Lin's family has rented; Lin is sure of it. The clocks tick too slowly. Frost covers the flowerbed, even in a rain storm. And when a secret key marked "Twistrose" arrives for her, Lin finds a crack in the cellar, a gate to the world of Sylver.

This frozen realm is the home of every dead animal who ever loved a child. Lin is overjoyed to be reunited with Rufus, the pet she buried under the rosebush. But together they must find the missing Winter Prince in order to save Sylver from destruction.

They are not the only ones hunting for the boy this night. In the dark hides a shadow-lipped man, waiting for the last Winter Prince to be delivered into his hands.

Exhilarating suspense and unforgettable characters await the readers of this magical adventure, destined to become a classic.

Read an excerpt

Listen to the Margrave's Song

Music: Eivind Almhjell, Lyrics: Tone Almhjell, Musicians: Geirmund Simonsen, Ofelia Østrem Ossum and Eivind Almhjell

Rave reviews for The Twistrose Key

"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

"Her story feels complete even as the world of Sylver contains enough unexplored territory to invite subsequent volumes." Publishers Weekly

"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

"Children entranced by animal tales and in love with snowy fantasy lands will delight in Lin’s magical journey and triumphant determination." Booklist

A Kirkus Reviews Best Books of the Year

Tone Almhjell introduces herself:

Seven things to know about me
  1. I have a master's in English Literature from the University of Oslo. My thesis was on The Lord of the Rings, my favorite book since I was eleven.
  2. I'm married to a Norwegian-American named Peter Brown  not the famous writer, but to make up for it, he's very handsome. We have two wonderfully stubborn kids, a boy of three and a girl of one.
  3. I'm incredibly close with my siblings. My brother Eivind wrote the music for the story's Margrave's Song, and my sister Line is the inspiration for Lindelin Rosenquist, the book's hero. All three of us live in Gr�nerl�kka in Oslo, where we like to drink coffee, quote Star Wars, and discuss grammar.
  4. My parents were teachers, and my father also the school librarian, so I grew up in a house full of books.
  5. I really love animals, and have shared my home with cats, hamsters, gerbils, parakeets, and a beloved rabbit called Josef. Some of them were buried under a lilac bush (and you'll understand the importance of that once you read the novel).
  6. As a child, I used to sneak out at night when my parents were sleeping. I would steal ladders from around the neighborhood and climb onto various rooftops to see the stars. (Apparently it didn't occur to me that I could fall down!) I'm not sure why the stars looked so much more wonderful to me when they were watched in secret. But I sometimes get the same feeling when I read a perfect book.
  7. I worked as a journalist for five years before deciding that, no, I couldn't really see the stars from that position. So I quit my job, sold my apartment, moved to Oslo, and sat down to write. It took me seven years to finish The Twistrose Key.
Left: A valley that inspired the Sylver setting (My grandmother had to cross it, down and up on the other side, to get to school every day as a girl!) Right: My street in Gr�nerl�kka in Oslo, where my sister and brother also live. Left: A valley that inspired the Sylver setting (My grandmother had to cross it, down and up on the other side, to get to school every day as a girl!) Right: My street in Gr�nerl�kka in Oslo, where my sister and brother also live.
(Photos by Line Almhjell)
This is Summerhill! Or actually Almhjell, named for the elm tree that you can see in front of the main house. The mountain peaks are lost in mist. This is Summerhill! Or actually Almhjell, named for the elm tree that you can see in front of the main house. The mountain peaks are lost in mist.
(Photo by Line Almhjell)
Nine things to know about The Twistrose Key
  1. I began writing the story shortly after my little gerbil Gwen died. This happened when I was the tender age of, oh, 31.
  2. It started out as an advent calendar, 24 one-page chapters glued into a book for my sister. It was called Line and the Snow Boy and featured all of our favorite places and pets.
  3. Consequently, almost all of the settings and characters in the novel are based on reality. For instance, Summerhill is the farm where I spent every summer growing up. It's actually called Almhjell, or Elmhill, because of the gigantic elm tree in the yard. Together with my siblings and cousins, I would climb the morello trees, swim in the stream called the Summerchild, and let our fantastic grandmother spoil us with perfect chocolate cake, sweet buns, and rice pudding.
  4. The sled ride at the beginning of the story really happened --gulp! One winter, all of my rambunctious cousins piled onto a huge old sled they had found in the barn and set off down the mountainside. The sled wasn't magical, so it crashed into a tree and broke into a hundred pieces. Incredibly, nobody was hurt.
  5. The mountains mentioned in chapter one, the Trollheim Mountains, are real, too. They're one of the most beautiful parts of Norway, especially the valley called Innerdalen, where they serve the best waffles you will find anywhere on this earth. I've never encountered any trolls up there, but that doesn't mean you won't.
  6. My fat hamster Claus would have liked Innerdalen, because he truly did love waffles like no rodent before him. And Lass was my grandmother's dog, a Norwegian Buhund who could curl her tail into a knot when she was happy. Like all farm dogs, she was very brave and very diligent. She wasn't too fond of children though, so that's where the gruff manners come from.
  7. I have never met a bear in real life. But I did have a very clumsy, sweet-natured teddy bear with close-set eyes.
  8. Oldtown is in real life Bakklandet, a pretty neighborhood of old wooden houses in the Norwegian city of Trondheim. I wrote the first paragraph of The Twistrose Key sitting in my favorite coffee shop across from Mrs. Ichalar's house.
  9. Edvard Uriarte's last name is taken from a doorbell in Bakklandet. (Sorry, Mr. Uriarte! I'm pretty sure you're not really a villain.)
Me and Oskar the neighbor cat (as I've put at the bottom myself, the text says Left: Me and Oskar the neighbor cat (as I've put at the bottom myself, the text says "Little Oskar.") Not quite sure how old I was there - seven maybe? Right: M e and one of my two current cats, Balthasar.
(Photos by Line Almhjell)

Sylver Valley Map

Sylver Valley Map