The Bird Tribunal
By Agnes Ravatn (translated by Rosie Hedger)
Published by Orenda Books (e-book - July 2016; paperback - September 2016)
TV presenter Allis Hagtorn leaves her partner and her job to take voluntary exile in a remote house on an isolated fjord. But her new job as housekeeper and gardener is not all that it seems, and her silent, surly employer, 44-year-old Sigurd Bagge, is not the old man she expected. As they await the return of his wife from her travels, their silent, uneasy encounters develop into a chilling, obsessive relationship, and it becomes clear that atonement for past sins may not be enough.
The Bird Tribunal is an eerie Norwegian psychological thriller with claustrophobic unease that seeps out of every page. It's beautifully written and exceptionally translated - it's clear that every sentence has been carefully constructed as the words flow seamlessly.
It's the chilling tale of Allis, a young woman who takes a job as housekeeper in an isolated house, determined to put the past behind her. Her solitary employer is a quiet moody man with a mysterious background who is waiting for his wife to return. The atmosphere between them prickles with tension, as they struggle to suppress their attraction and their stories of guilt, betrayal, love and redemption are gradually revealed.
I'm not sure that I've read a book with such a small cast of characters, but this certainly adds to its claustrophobic nature. I was hooked from the first page right through to the end. The Bird Tribunal isn't just about the words on the page, but also what's between the lines, with a flood of emotions bubbling under the surface. I read most of the book in one sitting, unable to tear myself away from the powerful emotional pull of the haunting prose. I was aware of my heart pounding, actually holding my breath in places, and an unsettling tingling sensation on my skin.
The story builds to a final dramatic ending that I couldn't stop thinking about afterwards. I was speechless - this book isn't one I'll forget. Yet again Orenda Books has chosen a stunner. Wow. I can easily imagine this as a television adaption - a chilling drama that leaves you breathless. This book will go far!
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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