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Literature / Twisted!

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“But yet my name isn’t really Rodney and I’m not really human. My name is Railrunner, a roller coaster. And I’ve been a coaster all along.”

Twisted! is a work of fiction published in 2010 by Miranda Leek.

When Rodney applies for a job as a roller coaster mechanic, he never suspects the world of craziness he's about to enter. When the weird old guy who hired him prompts him to touch the rails, he experiences a massive shock and blacks out—and that night, turns into a living roller coaster!

The were-roller coaster that calls itself Railrunner turns out not to be just a random monster, but the lost Chosen One of the Amusement Park Between, another world populated by living carnival rides and currently ruled by an evil coaster named Ironwheel and his followers, the Fallen. With his mentor Thunderbark, the Park Between's former greatest warrior, and his companions Merrylegs the carousel horse and Static the bumper car, Railrunner fights his own bloodthirsty thrill ride instincts and his depression at being forever apart from his human girlfriend, Clare, as he attempts to rise to fulfill his destiny.


Twisted! contains examples of:

  • 0% Approval Rating: Among the non-Fallen rides, absolutely no one sides with Ironwheel.
  • Absurdly Sharp Claws: Railrunner's claws can slice through steel like it was butter.
  • Achilles' Heel: The only thing that can kill a roller coaster is another coaster.
  • Aesop Amnesia: For all the times Thunderbark yells at Railrunner about being less rash and violent, it never once sinks in.
  • Alien Catnip: Motor oil acts like an energy drink for living rides. There's also Red C, a fizzy alcoholic drink named after the red roller coaster.
  • A Kind of One: There's only one red roller coaster at a time, and Railrunner is it.
  • All There in the Manual: Author Miranda Leek is also an artist, and has drawn tons of pictures of the characters, their biology, and the setting, as well as previews of the upcoming sequel.
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  • Alternate Identity Amnesia: Until his first full moon, Rodney doesn't recall what he did in roller coaster form.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: The Fallen—poorly treated as unliving rides, they are always irredeemably evil when they go to the Amusement Park Between.
  • Ancestral Weapon: Railrunner rediscovers Moonblood's sword, which belonged to the red who ruled before him.
  • Animate Inanimate Object: All the living rides (except red coasters) began as this—ordinary rides that were destroyed or put into storage in the human world become living things in the Amusement Park Between.
  • Another Dimension: The Amusement Park Between, where rides come to life after being destroyed or stored in the real world.
  • Art Evolution: Coasters were originally depicted as looking like centipede-dragons, with small limbs. In the newer art, they're much more anthropomorphic with human-like arms and visible torso muscles.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: Red roller coasters seem to be in charge mainly because they're the strongest variety.
  • Author Appeal: Miranda Leek really, REALLY likes roller coasters.
  • Badass Longcoat: Railrunner's disguise for getting around the Amusement Park Between without being recognized is a trenchcoat.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Freakshow is, as her name implies, a hideous patchwork created from the parts of several different coasters. Her origin makes it inevitable that she's an evil Fallen. Bones, a carousel horse Fallen with a skeleton theme, also falls under this trope.
  • Beware My Stinger Tail: Static the bumper car's main weapon is his sharp-tipped tail, which can shoot electricity.
  • Bizarre Alien Locomotion: Coasters can walk centipede-style, upright like a human, or roll on wheels either on or off tracks.
  • Blood Magic: Drinking fresh blood is the only way Railrunner can stop his nightmares.
  • Body Horror: The description of Rodney's human skin ripping to expose the metal beneath, seats popping up from his back and his fingers merging and becoming wheels certainly qualifies.
  • Breath Weapon: A coaster's concussion beam.
  • Can't Have Sex, Ever: Coasters, and apparently other living rides, don't have genitalia—they aren't born, they're created from rides in the human world. Only Reds are born, after the mother is mystically impregnated by what seem to be gods. Despite this, they do have conventional male/female genders and are able to feel romantic and parental love.
  • Conspicuous Trenchcoat: Doubly conspicuous in Amusement Park Between because rides don't usually wear anything. Somehow it still works.
  • Create Your Own Villain: Railrunner smashes up rides during his first transformation, and later encounters a boat ride as a monstrous living vessel for the Fallen. During the climactic battle, he deliberately destroys a Ferris wheel even though he knows it will be reborn in the Amusement Park Between as an evil Fallen.
  • Creating Life Is Unforeseen: Humans have no idea the amusement park rides they create, use and discard become sentient beings in the Amusement Park Between.
  • Creepy Blue Eyes: The first hint of Thunderbark's inhuman nature are his blue eyes with vertically slit pupils.
  • Cool Horse: When Clare is stranded without a car, she catches a ride home on Railrunner.
  • Cool Old Guy: Despite his age, Thunderbark can still kick some butt.
  • Cyborg: A living ride could be considered a sort of naturally-occurring cyborg. They have metal skin, but blood and guts inside, and need to eat and breathe.
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: The Fire Fury—releasing all your anger and frustration in an explosive inferno.
  • Damsel in Distress: Clare, once the Fallen learn she exists. Also Merrylegs, who is injured during the battle at sea and who is kidnapped by a Fallen go-kart soon after they arrive in the Amusement Park Between.
  • Death by Origin Story: Angeltrack sacrifices herself so Thunderbark can get her son, Railrunner, safely into the human world.
  • Death Is Not Permanent: Clare dies, but she gets better.
  • Dem Bones: Fallen carousel horse Bones is (not surprisingly) skeleton-themed.
  • Deceased Parents Are the Best: Railrunner doesn't have any memory of her, but seeing as how his mother Angeltrack gave her life for him, this qualifies.
  • Deus Exit Machina: Ironwheel's plan with kidnapping Clare — if he gets the legendary red roller coaster out of the way, no one else will be able to stop him.
  • Disney Villain Death: Freakshow... or so it seems. Railrunner sees her fall off a high cliff and assumes she's gone for good, forgetting that only a coaster can kill another coaster.
  • Distressed Dude: Thunderbark is kidnapped and held hostage.
  • Don't Think, Feel: During training, Thunderbark advises Railrunner think of something he's passionate about because fire comes from the heart and not the mind (he thinks of Clare).
  • Elemental Powers: Roller coasters can create and manipulate fire and lightning.
  • Emergency Transformation: What happens to Clare/Shadowtrack.
  • Evil Wears Black: Big Bad Ironwheel is black.
  • Fainting Seer: Merrylegs collapses after reading Railrunner's mind, partly due to his innate power and partly because he's stressing out.
  • Fallen Angel: The Fallen are implied to be this, although they became the way they are through no fault of their own.
  • Fantastic Racism: Roller coasters seem to be the ruling class in the Amusement Park Between, as they're the most physically and magically powerful rides. Among them, steel coasters are more powerful than wooden ones. Only reds are leaders.
  • Fantastic Slurs: Railrunner calls the patchwork coaster Freakshow a "mutt".
  • Fantasy Metals: In order to travel between the Amusement Park Between and the human world, rides require a ring made out of a metal unique to their world called Firinium. Railrunner's Augu Ra, which has additional powers, is also made of Firinium, and Moonblood's sword might be, too, as a real sword couldn't be made out of solid gold.
  • Ferris Wheel of Doom: Railrunner uses a Ferris wheel like a giant mouse wheel while fighting Ironwheel.
  • Fiery Redhead: Averted. Merrylegs has a red mane and tail, and red hair in human form, but is easily the calmest, gentlest character.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Rozrail. After Railrunner defeats him in an arena fight, the other coaster pledges his loyalty.
  • Fortune Teller: Moonhoof, an elderly carousel horse who lives in a swamp. She gives them the Veradagashi and directions to the Temple of the Red.
  • Friend to All Children: Despite being roughly used and then cast aside when she was still an inanimate object, Merrylegs retains a great love for human children. It took her a little longer to learn to love adults.
  • Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: Merrylegs is usually the one slapping sense into the others, like when Railrunner has a BSOD after Thunderbark's kidnapping or Static can't stop snarking even though it's pushing Railrunner (who is, again, a giant roller coaster beast) into a dangerous rage.
  • Great Big Book of Everything: The Veradagashi, a book written by the first red roller coaster.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Railrunner is The Chosen One, but he is rude, sarcastic, foul-mouthed, short-tempered and ungrateful, and constantly lies, destroys property, and murders innocent bystanders and policemen who were just trying to do their duty.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Blonde-haired Clare is immensely more forgiving of Rodney's transformation into a murderous living roller coaster than any ordinary person.
  • Healing Factor: The only thing that can kill a coaster is the venom-laced fangs or claws of another coaster . . . even getting dropped off a cliff is survivable.
  • Heinz Hybrid: Freakshow was created from bits and pieces of several coasters.
  • Heroic BSoD: Railrunner flips out after Thunderbark is captured by the enemy.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: Despite being a twenty-foot-long roller coaster monster naturally equipped with venomous fangs, claws that can cut through steel, a concussive energy beam breath weapon and the ability to control fire and lightning, Railrunner still carries a sword.
  • Hero with an F in Good: For a hero, Railrunner does a lot of murdering and property damage.
  • Horror Hunger: In roller coaster form, Rodney/Railrunner has an immense appetite for flesh and blood.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Clare is a petite human woman. Railrunner is an anthropomorphic rollercoaster that's over twenty feet long and weighs several thousand pounds.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: The Fallen are created when humans mistreat and break amusement rides.
  • Human Shifting: All the shape shifters are carnival rides, and their human form is their secondary form.
  • Hybrid Monster: Bandit, the ship's captain, is a coaster with raccoon characteristics as well as human ones.
  • I Can Change My Beloved: Rodney discovers a way he and Clare can be together—if she becomes a roller coaster, too.
  • I Have Your Wife: Ironwheel kidnaps first Thunderbark, then Clare.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Rodney angsts about being Railrunner, but quickly ends up preferring his roller coaster form.
  • Incompletely Trained: Thunderbark doesn't dare teach Railrunner the Fire Fury—which doesn't matter, as he figures it out for himself.
  • In Medias Res: The book begins with a POV sequence that takes place later in the story.
  • Interspecies Romance: Between Rodney/Railrunner and Clare/Shadowtrack for most of the book, until she has a species upgrade.
  • Invincible Hero: Becoming a roller coaster means a never-ending stream of new powers.
  • It's Personal: Railrunner vows to kill Freakshow for killing his mother, Angeltrack.
  • Lampshade Hanging: At several points in the story, as Railrunner learns about how living rides and the Amusement Park Between operate, he exclaims how stupid and hard to believe it all is.
  • Landmark of Lore: The Temple of the Red, which is well-hidden despite being only a few days walk from a decent sized town.
  • Last Kiss: Railrunner and Clare have one before she dies, although how a lipless living roller coaster accomplishes this isn't described.
  • Living Ship: Nessie, the Viking boat ride.
  • Longest Pregnancy Ever: Roller coasters have a 12 month gestation period.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: Railrunner suffers from period bouts of rage-insanity—"Jyronatropy"—because he misses Clare so much.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Thunderbark to Railrunner, although technically he's his godfather, since Railrunner's the product of a Mystical Pregnancy. It still falls under this trope, as normally coasters don't reproduce, so they have no concept of actual fatherhood.
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: Angeltrack, Railrunner's mother, got him via Mystical Pregnancy—normally, the living rides don't reproduce.
  • The Medic: Chainlink, whose only function in the story is to patch Railrunner up.
  • Mermaid Problem: Coasters (and other rides) don't have any reproductive organs, which doesn't seem to bother them, but could be a problem for Rodney/Railrunner, who was raised as a human and is in love with a human woman.
  • The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body: Rodney very quickly abandons his human side and begins thinking of himself as Railrunner.
  • Mismatched Eyes: Freakshow, one green and one blue, due to her origin as being pieced together from the remnants of several broken coasters.
  • Morphic Resonance: In roller coaster form, Railrunner has the same tattoo and eyebrow piercing as his human form. In human form, after his first change Rodney notices he's more muscular and his skin has taken on a reddish tone.
  • My Instincts Are Showing: Railrunner is uncontrollable the first few times he transforms, and is frequently overwhelmed by his instincts.
  • Mystical Pregnancy: Only red roller coasters are born, not made. Their mothers are chosen by what are apparently gods for their good character, then summoned to the Temple of the Red and is somehow impregnated. They have amnesia about the exact process.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Railrunner is constantly developing new abilities just when he needs them most.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Ironwheel doesn't even know Clare exists until Railrunner mentions her—and when he does, Ironwheel immediately makes it his goal to kill her.
  • Non Human Lover Reveal: Hey, you know that living roller coaster that's been on the news every night? It's me!
  • Non-Humans Lack Attributes: Coasters don't have genitals; females have breasts but no nipples.
  • Non-Mammalian Hair: Despite having metal skin Railrunner and Thunderbark have eyebrows and grow facial hair.
  • Non-Mammal Mammaries: Female coasters have breasts, even though they don't normally bear young.
  • N Othing But Skulls: Ironwheel's throne room is cluttered with skulls; he crushes them to intimidate minions who displease him.
  • Oddly Shaped Sword: Moonblood's sword has a blade with multiple points.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: Boy, are they! Railrunner and Thunderbark are were-coasters, Merrylegs is a were-carousel horse, and Static is a were-dodgem (bumper car).
  • Portal Pool: How rides travel between the real world and the Amusement Park Between.
  • Posthumous Character: Although Angeltrack is dead long before the story begins, she shows up very frequently in the supplemental artwork — moreso than some of the actually-appearing characters (see: Creator's Pet).
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: All the coasters fall into the trope, Railrunner most of all once he reconciles himself to being a coaster.
  • Puny Humans: Railrunner won't shut up about how weak humans are as he slaughters police officers and innocent bystanders.
  • Questionable Consent: It's unclear how much consent female coasters have when being mystically impregnated with reds, since they have amnesia about the event and no one else seems very clear on how or what happens.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Ironwheel has glowing, pupil-less red eyes.
  • Red Is Heroic: Not only is the main character red, but only one red roller coaster can exist at a time, and they're always subject to destiny.
  • Robosexual: Clare and Railrunner are still attracted to one another, despite her being a human woman and him being a living roller coaster with no genitals.
  • Sacred Language: The Veradagashi, a book written by the first red roller coaster, is written in a language only they can understand.
  • Save Both Worlds: Ironwheel wants to make both humans and rides his slaves.
  • Shapeshifter Baggage: Rodney transforms into a roller coaster weighing several thousand pounds and back again.
  • Shapeshifter Default Form: As it turns out, Rodney was a roller coaster all along.
  • Shout-Out: One of the major characters is a carousel horse named Merrylegs.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Railrunner is treated like this by the story, despite his curses being considerably more mild and infrequent than most examples of the trope.
  • Spiders Are Scary: Thunderbark uses poisonous spiders to guard his lair, even though they can't actually do permanent harm to coasters.
  • Split Personality: Until his first full moon, Rodney and Railrunner essentially have two distinct minds. Afterwards, his personality integrates.
  • Spontaneous Generation: The living rides of the Amusement Park Between started existence as ordinary amusement park rides. Only red coasters have a different origin.
  • Stages of Monster Grief: Railrunner moves through them in a chapter or two.
  • Team Mom: Merrylegs, whose main task is smoothing over the interactions of the two combative coasters and the snarky Static.
  • Time to Unlock More True Potential: Railrunner is naturally proficient in combat, but requires training from Thunderbark to harness his potential.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Turning into Railrunner doesn't seem to have done much for his social skills.
  • Transformation Sequence: Rodney's transformations into Railrunner are described in detail the first few times they happen.
  • Transformation Trinket: The Augu Ra, a medallion that allows Railrunner to change form whenever he wants in the human world, rather than being human during the day and a coaster at night.
  • Silver Bullet: Thunderbark crafts bullets from coaster-skin that are capable of killing a coaster, unlike ordinary bullets.
  • Telepathy: Merrylegs can read minds.
  • The Bad Guys Are Cops: Railrunner has some serious hatred for the police in the human world who try to stop him—although in their defense, he killed several people before (and even after) he gained control of his coaster form.
  • The Chick: Merrylegs, and later on Clare. Both are unwaveringly loyal, unusually forgiving, motherly, supportive and tend not to get involved with the action.
  • The Lancer: Static. He's smaller and much less powerful than the two coasters, but still can hold his own in a skirmish.
  • The Prophecy: "The Red Will Defeat the Black".
  • Prophecies Are Always Right: It plays out exactly as described.
  • Psychic Dreams for Everyone: Railrunner dreams repeatedly of the final conflict and Clare's death.
  • The Unchosen One: Razorblade has been manning the resistance movement while everyone waits for Railrunner to arrive, despite knowing they're doomed to fail.
  • Unhand Them, Villain!: Ironwheel dangles Clare from the top of a roller coaster track to torment Railrunner in the climactic fight.
  • Unicorn: Merrylegs the carousel horse is also a unicorn.
  • Vertebrate with Extra Limbs: Coasters have four limbs per car.
  • Wacky Cravings: After becoming a coaster, even in human form Rodney/Railrunner enjoys drinking motor oil (to no ill effect).
  • Warm Bloodbags Are Everywhere: Railrunner goes uncontrollably into hunting mode the first couple times he transforms, and has trouble not devouring his fallen enemies.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Railrunner is less than thrilled to discover he's potentially immortal, since his life sucks and he's separated from his one true love, Clare.
  • Younger Than They Look: According to Merrylegs, human years don't count, so despite being a man in his mid-thirties as Rodney, Railrunner is considered a baby.
  • You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry!: Rodney says this nearly word-for-word several times before transforming into Railrunner.


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