Miranda Leek’s Twisted invites you into a mystical new world: Amusement Park Beyond, the home of broken and discarded roller coasters and amusement park rides. Published by AuthorHouse in 2014, Twisted is the first of a planned series inspired by the author’s dream.
The story is narrated by Rodney Philips, a laid-off cake-factory engineer who takes a job repairing roller coasters at Mystic Park. Before he can start work, however, Rodney is confronted by the park’s mysterious director, Woody. Woody immediately recognizes Rodney as being, like himself, not quite human. In fact, both men are roller coasters from Amusement Park Beyond who have been banished into human form for the past four decades.
Rodney, like anyone would, finds this idea preposterous and goes out for drinks with his buddies. But that night in the bar, he finds Woody’s story is all too true when his human body painfully transforms back into its true roller coaster form.
Rodney is more than just another coaster, however. He is Railrunner, the powerful red roller coaster who is prophesied to be the only one who can stop the black coaster Ironwheel, who has taken over Amusement Park Beyond and transformed it from a happy home for the discarded rides into a dark and terrible place.
In addition to his dark destiny, Rodney must also navigate the challenges of his new form. The power and viciousness of his roller coaster nature must be controlled—and he must protect his human girlfriend, Clare, both from himself and from the dangers of Amusement Park Beyond, where love is off limits.
Twisted is illustrated with hand-drawn art by the author depicting her anthropomorphic rides. Leek makes the roller coasters surprisingly human, a bit like a dragon but instantly recognizable as roller coasters, too. This fits neatly with her description of the living coasters as part man, part beast, and all coaster.
The tale itself is engaging told and full of twists and endearing characters, including Merrylegs the carousel horse and Static the dodgem. The excitement holds throughout the plotline to the denouement between Railrunner and Ironwheel in the penultimate chapter.
The book’s writing is definitely that of an amateur, and the book could have used a more thorough reading by an editor for consistency of details. Those willing to overlook this, however, will thoroughly enjoy Twisted’s very original concept and can look forward to the publication of its sequel sometime soon.
If you know someone in the ’Boro who has published a book recently, let us know!