University professor Nina is at a turning point. Her work seems increasingly irrelevant, her doctor husband is never home, relations with her adult daughter Ingeborg are strained, and their beautiful house is scheduled for demolition.
When Ingeborg decides to move into another house they own, things take a very dark turn. The young woman who rents it disappears, leaving behind her son, the day after Nina and Ingeborg pay her a visit.
With few clues, the police enquiry soon grinds to a halt, but Nina has an inexplicable sense of guilt. Unable to rest, she begins her own investigation, but as she pulls on the threads of the case, it seems her discoveries may have very grave consequences for her and her family.
A dark, powerful and deeply disturbing psychological thriller about family, secrets and dangerous curiosity…
I received a copy of this book from Orenda Books in return for an honest review.
This is an atmospheric, chilling Nordic noir story, which holds your attention from its ordinary beginning to its fast-paced, tragic conclusion.
Nina is facing the loss of her childhood home to the developers, and this crystallises the sense of unease and loss of identity she faces in her life. Her marriage is sedate and her relationship with her daughter difficult.
When her daughter needs to move house, they visit their rental property and bully their way inside, leaving the tenant unsettled. Nina regrets going along with her daughter’s actions and is guilt-ridden when she discovers the tenant is missing without trace days later.
Nina takes on an amateur investigative role as she realises the tenant’s true identity and finds tentative connections with her parents. What she discovers is increasingly sinister, as it appears Nina’s disappearance may not be voluntary, and everyone has a reason to remove her.
The folklore and literary references add authenticity and depth to this emotional family drama. It has relatable salient characters and a compelling investigation, which reveals a poignant web of deceit, obsession and saving face.
Agnes Ravatn (b. 1983) is a Norwegian author and columnist. She made her literary début with the novel Week 53 (Veke 53) in 2007. Since then she has written three critically acclaimed and award-winning essay collections: Standing still (Stillstand), 2011, Popular Reading (Folkelesnad), 2011, and Operation self-discipline (Operasjon sjøldisiplin), 2014.
In these works, Ravatn revealed a unique, witty voice and sharp eye for human fallibility.
Her second novel, The Bird Tribunal (Fugletribuanlet), was an international bestseller translated into fifteen languages, winning an English PEN Award, shortlisting for the Dublin Literary Award, a WHSmith Fresh Talent pick and a BBC Book at Bedtime. It was also made into a successful play, which premiered in Oslo in 2015.
Agnes lives with her family in the Norwegian countryside.