An exquisitely written, disturbing, claustrophobic and chillingly atmospheric thriller, The Creak on the Stairs is the first in the electrifying FORBIDDEN ICELAND series, by one of Iceland’s most exciting new talents.
When a body of a woman is discovered at a lighthouse in the Icelandic town of Akranes, it soon becomes clear that she’s no stranger to the area.
Chief Investigating Officer Elma, who has returned to Akranes following a failed relationship, and her collegues Sævar and Hörður, commence an uneasy investigation, which uncovers a shocking secret in the dead woman’s past that continues to reverberate in the present day …
But as Elma and her team make a series of discoveries, they bring to light a host of long-hidden crimes that shake the entire community. Sifting through the rubble of the townspeople’s shattered memories, they have to dodge increasingly serious threats, and find justice … before it’s too late.
I think it is quite remarkable that an small indie publisher such as Orenda continues to publish top notch books without skipping a beat. I can always depend on them to give me a book, that catches the imagination, excites me, moves me and leaves me wanting more! The Creak On The Stairs definitely left me wanting more!
It is different from your average thriller, because not only does it value story, characterisation is paramount, allowing each characters emotions to shine off the page. The characters in The Creak On The Stairs have foibles, make mistakes and because they are allowed to feel anger, confusion and longing, they feel real. Officer Elma is the perfect example of a character so finely drawn she inhabits the story in what feels like real time. I won’t reveal the reasons she moves back to Akranes, but it informs who she is and by the end, you understand her drive to succeed in this new role. As a character she goes on a journey and opens up to the reader, moving from this unknown entity you encounter at the beginning of the novel to the more rounded, utterly real figure, that by the end could be sitting in the room with you as you turn the pages. Of course she is not the only character, but she draws the others around her, they drift in and out of her arc, informing her story and propelling her towards the recognition, that below the surface secrets are deadly.
The story is compelling and on times deeply emotional. The writer deals with difficult and complex emotions and actions, weaving them into a story which seems low key, but in reality is like a volcano waiting to erupt. The layer of normality that exists in Akranes is deceptively thin and as cracks begin to appear, the secrets and lies erupt and lives will never be the same again. The discovery of a women’s body takes us on a journey deep down below the layers of a community that appears on the surface sedate, normal, but is in fact anything but. It makes you wonder as a reader if the perceptions you started with during the first chapters of The Creak On The Stairs are really just a delusion and for me they certainly were. The way the writer shines a light on small town life, where everyone knows each other, blows apart the notion that this would make deadly behaviour less likely, because where would the perpetrators hide? In fact she shines a light on a disturbing phenomena, they hide in plain sight, because so many characters in this book. are either too intimidated to act, or too invested in keeping the secrets buried. For the reader the fascination comes from figuring out who falls into what group and how it affects Officer Elm’s chance of solving this case.
The Creak On The Stairs is superb. It really is a book that you should buy and read.
You can purchase this book directly from the publisher from their ebook store. Or why not consider contacting your local indie bookshop, all of whom are doing remarkable work and will post out books to you.
I would like to thank the author, publisher and blog tour organiser for the ARC of this novel in return for an honest review.
About the author
Born in Akranes in 1988, Eva moved to Trondheim, Norway to study my MSc in Globalisation when she was 25. After moving back home having completed her MSc, she knew it was time to start working on her novel. Eva has wanted to write books since she was 15 years old, having won a short story contest in Iceland.
Eva worked as a stewardess to make ends meet while she wrote her first novel. The book went on to win the Blackbird Award and became an Icelandic bestseller. Eva now lives with her husband and three children in Reykjavík, staying at home with her youngest until she begins Kindergarten.
About the translator
Victoria Cribb studied and worked in Iceland for many years. She has translated more than 25 novels from the Icelandic and, in 2017, she received the Orðstír honourary translation award for services to Icelandic literature.