Book Review: The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett #TheTwyfordCode @JaniceHallett @ViperBooks


It’s time to solve the murder of the century…

Forty years ago, Steven Smith found a copy of a famous children’s book by disgraced author Edith Twyford, its margins full of strange markings and annotations. Wanting to know more, he took it to his English teacher Miss Iles, not realising the chain of events that he was setting in motion. Miss Iles became convinced that the book was the key to solving a puzzle, and that a message in secret code ran through all Twyford’s novels. Then Miss Iles disappeared on a class field trip, and Steven has no memory of what happened to her.

Now, out of prison after a long stretch, Steven decides to investigate the mystery that has haunted him for decades. Was Miss Iles murdered? Was she deluded? Or was she right about the code? And is it still in use today?

Desperate to recover his memories and find out what really happened to Miss Iles, Steven revisits the people and places of his childhood. But it soon becomes clear that Edith Twyford wasn’t just a writer of forgotten children’s stories. The Twyford Code has great power, and he isn’t the only one trying to solve it…

My Review

Steven Smith is 14 when he finds a book on the bus. He takes it with him in the hope he can sell it for a bag of chips. That is until he is caught with it by his teacher Miss Iles during remedial class. The book in question is according to Miss Iles a banned book written by the controversial author Edith Twyford. Miss Iles confiscates the book after informing Steven and his fellow class mates that the book in question is a banned book but also that it holds The Twyford Code, a secret code that solves a bigger puzzle that runs through Edith Twyford’s books. When Miss Iles disappears during a class trip with the remedial class no one including Steven knows why Miss Iles disappeared or what happened to her. Their memories relating to that trip are blank. Now out of prison Steven is still haunted by the disappearance of Miss Iles and becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to her and cracking The Twyford Code. Could Miss Iles’ disappearance and The Twyford Code be related?

I read the author’s debut novel The Appeal and I absolutely adored that book and will recommend it to anyone that will listen. When I heard that the author was writing a new novel I was fascinated, intrigued and couldn’t wait. This book did not disappoint. I finished the book within a space of hours only stopping briefly to breathe because it had me hooked from the first page. The format of this book is very unique in that it is made up of voice notes that have being transcribed. The voice notes are what Steven has recorded of all conversations that he has with people as well as updates on his findings.

This is definitely a book that you have to pay close attention to especially because when you first start to read it the words and the format seem alien because of the way the voice notes have been transcribed ie there are some words which appear odd in a sentence or just don’t seem to make sense. But the more you read the more you actually get used to the words and what they really mean. Then like magic the word you read corrects itself in your head and the sentence makes sense. There’s also a really useful key which helps to decipher some of the symbols which I referred to when I initially started to read.

This book is highly addictive and I really couldn’t put it down. At times the story felt like a cross between Indiana Jones and The Goonies but in written format. It was full of suspense, intrigue and it was like a giant jigsaw puzzle where you’re trying to piece together what’s going on with the turn of each page. It also gives a glimpse into what happens when a person/people become obsessed with a topic and the lengths at which they’ll go to solve the riddle. Is there another secret, treasure or another riddle at the end.

I have said this in my review of The Appeal, but Janice Hallett is a genius and this book is a complete work of art. It’s definitely a book that makes you think and when everything was explained at the end I couldn’t help but flick back through the book to the relevant chapters to see where I’d missed a clue or where I had picked up on a significant piece of information.

This is only the author’s second book and I honestly can’t wait to see what’s next.

Author Bio

Janice Hallett studied English at UCL, and spent several years as a magazine editor, winning two awards for journalism. After gaining an MA in Screenwriting at Royal Holloway, she co-wrote the feature film Retreat. The Appeal is inspired by her lifelong interest in amateur dramatics. Her second novel, The Twyford Code, will be published by Viper in 2022. When not indulging her passion for global adventure travel, she is based in West London.

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