Today I’m really excited to be hosting the next stop on Agnes Ravatn’s The Bird Tribunal blog tour, published by Orenda Books and translated by Rosie Hedger.
First the Blurb:
Two people in exile. Two secrets. As the past tightens its grip, there may be no escape…
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.
Meet Allis Hagtorn, a chaotic 32 year old woman who decides to cut herself off from her past life to take a job as a housekeeper and gardener in a remote and isolated house, on a secluded fjord where she is essentially living in exile. Her employer, Sigurd Bagge is a 44-year old surly man who seems to control every moment of his day, and that of Allis’. But the more Allis spends in exile the more she seeks approval from Bagge – but is there something more sinister at work?
This is the first book in a while which has actually stumped me, leaving me lost for words (in a very good way).
How can I even begin to describe this novel? I adored the haunting and claustrophobic atmosphere the author creates where everything is shrouded in mystery with hidden, locked rooms, a foggy, harsh environment and a character simmering with danger. It really unsettled me as a reader which made this such a superb read, and what a shocking twist at the end – I had my heart in my mouth!
I loved the unreliable narration of Allis who is both chaotic and hypnotic as she slowly loses control and allows Bagge to dominant her. The strong narrative voice really stands out in the novel for me with Allis constantly having an internal struggle with herself which really gave me an insight into her troubled character. She is a character who observes her own faults which is very refreshing to see but the longer she spends under the spell of Bagge the more she obsesses over him.
Sigurd Bagge is a handsome but mysterious character who seems to flit through a range of emotions and mood swings making his actions unpredictable and dangerous for both Allis and the reader. There were actual times where I was unsure what was going on and kind of still am which I loved!
I felt the novel had a dream-like quality to it weaving in the fictional fairytales into the the ‘fictional reality’ and also the characters’ dreams which made it such a disturbing, powerful, haunting and mysterious story. But I cannot review this book without mentioning the brilliant descriptions littering throughout which really showcased the author’s talents and just how beautiful but treacherous the fjord is as well as the claustrophobic world Allis and Bagge is living in.
This is a story about obsessive power-dominated relationships and how you can never truly know a person. This is not only creepy but an atmopsheric story which was just magic. I can only describe it as truly mesmerising – I spent a whole day with this novel but what a day it was and will take a few days to recover from. I just cannot recommend this novel enough.
Go buy a copy and don’t forget to check out all the other stops on this epic blog tour!
To buy this book from Amazon click here.
To buy this book from Waterstones click here.
About the author:
Agnes Ravatn (b. 1983) is a Norwegian author and columnist. She made her literary début with the novel Week 53 in 2007. Since then she has written three critically acclaimed and award-winning essay collections: Standing, Popular Reading and Operation Self-discipline, in which she recounts her experience with social media addiction, and how she overcame it. The Bird Tribunal won the cultural radio P2’s listener’s prize for this novel, a popular and important prize in Norway, in addition to The Youth’s Critic’s Prize. The Bird Tribunal was also made into a successful play, which premiered in Oslo in 2015.