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…
Haunting, consuming and powerful, The Bird Tribunal is a taut, exquisitely written psychological thriller that builds to a shocking, dramatic crescendo that will leave you breathless.
MY RATING: 5/5
Review: So, this book, where do I start? Well it’s a book, it has pages and words, no quotation marks which I’ve never seen before, but plenty of words written in such a way that you get drawn into them. This is so unlike any book I have ever previously read that this review will probably be quite different also. The writing is an unusual style but at the same time it is brilliant, the writing grabs you immediately. It’s not fast paced but steady and that works, steady and progressive, both the writing and the actual story. It starts off fairly normally and then slowly, insidiously it changes, it works its way into you so that you lose track of all time and of everything. At one point, towards the end, I had to remind myself to breathe because I wasn’t sure if I would otherwise.
There are only really two characters here. There are two others who appear briefly and some mentioned but never seen. Because of the story itself, two characters are all that is needed, more would change the dynamic and it wouldn’t be what it is. The descriptions of Allis’s daily duties, feelings and fears are very clear and well written. Her story is what drags you into this strange, isolated world which seems to exist almost without anything else, it’s almost as if there has been a worldwide disaster and these two are the only ones left. The majority of the story takes place at the house and in the garden, very little time is spent elsewhere which can make it claustrophobic at times and simply adds to the way in which the story affects you. It is haunting, something I doubt I will ever completely forget. It gets inside you somehow and takes root where it grows and makes you think, why is this happening, why does she stay, what has he done and what does it all mean. The ending is somehow expected and not at the same time. I wanted to rush through the last 20 pages so I could find out what happened but at the same time I wanted to take my time and savour every word because, somehow, this story makes you want to do that. It is definitely a story that needs to be read, but make sure you have no commitments to keep because you will probably forget them all when reading this. It’s like the bit in on of Lord of the Rings films where Gandalf says he fell out of time and space, that’s how I felt reading this. I can’t explain it better than that.
I apologise if this is a strange review but I can’t do better than this. To try to explain would be to ruin the story and that would be a shame because it is definitely one story that that should never happen to.
Many thanks to Karen Sullivan, Agnes Ratavn and Rosie Hedger for publishing, writing and translating this amazing book.
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.
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