The Seven Doors by Agnes Ravatn

When the tenant of a house that university professor Nina owns with her doctor husband goes missing after an uncomfortable visit, Nina starts her own investigation … with deeply disturbing results. The long-awaited new thriller from the bestselling author of The Bird Tribunal.

University professor Nina is at a turning point. Her work seems increasingly irrelevant, her doctor husband is never home, relations with her difficult daughter are strained, and their beautiful house is scheduled for demolition.

When her daughter decides to move into another house they own, things take a very dark turn. The young woman living there disappears, leaving her son behind, the day after Nina and her daughter 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.

Exquisitely dark and immensely powerful, The Seven Doors is a sophisticated and deeply disturbing psychological thriller from one of Norway’s most distinguished voices.

Review

From the first few pages of The Seven Doors by Agnes Ravatn I just knew that I was going to absolutely love it and I did. If I could persuade Amazon to award it more than five stars, I would!

The writing is superb, feeling sparse, yet pulling a punch that left me reeling when I had finished the book.

From the moment University Professor Nina starts to investigate the mysterious disappearance of her former tenant, her life begins to spiral out of control. Yet even though events change rapidly, the story itself eases along, with quiet moments interspersed with heart racing tension. It’s a clever move by the writer, because the austere writing style, actually extenuates the tension that permeates the story. None of the fast faced, action-laden drama so popular in many American thrillers, which distract from the emotional impact on the reader and characters. Here it is the quietness between the sentences, between the disturbing events that creates the bleak, crippling anxiety that enveloped me as I read. For moments, I actually felt my heart tighten and my nerves scream out for relief.

The Seven Doors is full of an amazing collection of characters, all of whom could be neighbours of any of us. They are realistic, beautifully drawn and it is their authenticity that adds a feeling of palpability; you feel like they are capable of being touched or felt. That is the genius of Agnes Ravatn writing, characters like Nina. Facing great changes in her life, frustrated at work, she inadvertently becomes tangled up in a mystery that coils itself into every part of her day to day existence. Many of us subconsciously seek out challenges to help us deal with stressful events, feeling lost as retirement looms, but can’t be faced. This is Nina and this is why I felt a connection to her, the story, her family and the chaos that is created from one fateful moment!

If you take both story and character, add them together and you have a novel of quiet genius. I am left wondering where the writer Agnes Ravatn has been all my reading life. I am glad she is here now and I hope she continues to grace my shelves with her wonderful writing.

You can purchase this novel from Amazon, Waterstones, directly from the publisher and all good independent bookshops.

About the author

Agnes Ravatn (b. 1983) is an 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 shows her unique, witty voice and sharp eye for human fallibility. Her second novel, The Bird Tribunal (Fugletribuanlet), was an international bestseller, 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.

About the translator

Rosie Hedger was born in Scotland and completed her MA (Hons) in Scandinavian Studies at the University of Edinburgh. She has lived and worked in Norway, Sweden and Denmark, and now lives in York where she works as a freelance translator. Rosie was a candidate in the British Center for Literary Translation’s mentoring scheme for Norwegian in 2012, mentored by Don Bartlett. Visit her website: rosiehedger.com and follow her on Twitter @rosie_hedger

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