The long-awaited new novel from the award-winning author of The Bird Tribunal
– The Seven Doors
[ About the Book ]
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.
[My Review ]
The Seven Doors by Agnes Ravatn was just published, in original paperback, September 17th with Orenda Books and is described as ‘exquisitely dark and immensely powerful….a sophisticated and deeply disturbing psychological thriller from one of Norway’s most distinguished voices.’ Translated by Rosie Hedger, The Seven Doors is a haunting, atmospheric tale that is wonderfully captured in translation. The dialogue is unusual with a strained formality that is so very different to my usual reads. Also a lack of speech marks throughout requires a focus, a concentration. This is not a story to be skimmed, as to miss a piece of dialogue could have a huge impact on the reading experience.
The Seven Doors is the story of Professor Nina Wisløff and her husband Mads Glaser, a doctor with a very busy work-life. Nina is despondent. No longer finding her work in the university fulfilling, she has hit a life-crisis. With Mads working long hours, she has time to ruminate on her future, on their future. There is a compulsory purchase order on their home which is causing Nina much sorrow. This was her childhood home and was where she and Mads raised their now married daughter, Ingeborg. Nina does not want to move and the upheaval is painful for her. When Ingeborg comes rushing in to tell Nina that her own home is infested with silverfish, Nina is unwittingly about to open a Pandora’s Box from which there is no returning.
Nina and Mads have a number of homes through inheritance and Ingeborg wishes to kick out the sitting tenant in one and move herself and her family in. Not one to mess about, Ingeborg drags her mother to the house and the tenant warily lets the two women in. Much to Nina’s shock, Ingeborg informs the tenant, Mari, of her imminent eviction. A few days later, Nina discovers that said tenant, Mari, is now a missing person. After Ingeborg’s announcement, Mari returned home to her parents with her young son. Following an argument with her mother, she went out for a walk, never to return.
Nina is riddled with guilt. Was this her fault? Did her visit with Ingeborg cause so much upset that Mari could not cope? Nina decides to carry out her own small investigation in the hope of alleviating some of the guilt, but instead it’s like she threw a pebble into a pond, with some very far-reaching ripple effects.
The Seven Doors is a compact novel but it packs a fair punch. With many references to Greek Literature, Bluebeard’s Castle (a one-act expressionist opera by Hungarian composer Béla Bartók), psychoanalysis in the form of transference love and so much more, it is a book with many fascinating insights and discussions among the characters. It really is quite an educational read. Bluebeard’s Castle features very strongly in the book, with it’s central premise being the seven doors of the castle, hence the book title.
The Seven Doors is a very original, off-beat psychological thriller. It is a slow-burner with a very climatic, and almost operatic, ending. Was I shocked? Yes. Did I see it coming? No. The Seven Doors is a very suspenseful read, constantly throwing up curve balls to send the reader off in multiple directions. This is all done very skillfully and it really is a testament to Rosie Hedger’s translation that none of the ominous feelings are lost. The perfect read for the continuously growing fan-base of Nordic Noir, a genre that continues to surprise, delight and highly entertain. Huge kudos to Orenda Books for bringing so many wonderful translated works into our lives.
Quirky. Mysterious. Tense.
[ Bio ]
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 a number of critically acclaimed and award-winning essay collections, including, Standing, Popular Reading and Operation Self-discipline, in which she recounts her experience with social media addiction, and how she overcame it.
Her debut thriller, 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, and was made into a successful play, which premiered in Oslo in 2015. The English translation was a WHSmith Fresh Talent Pick, winner of a PEN Translation Award, a BBC Radio Four ‘Book at Bedtime’ and shortlisted for the Dublin Literary Award.