The Creak on the Stairs by Eva Björg Ægisdóttir (tr. by Victoria Cribb) #BookReview #BlogTour



The first in the electrifying new Forbidden Iceland series, The Creak on the Stairs is an exquisitely written, claustrophobic and chillingly atmospheric debut thriller by one of Iceland’s most exciting new talents. 
When the 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 colleagues 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'm delighted to be hosting the blog tour for The Creak on the Stairs today. Many thanks to Eva Björg Ægisdóttir, Orenda Books and Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me and for my advance copy of the novel.

The Creak on the Stairs is the first book in Eva Björg Ægisdóttir's Forbidden Iceland series and I'm already hooked. Introducing Elma, a Chief Investigating Officer who has recently returned to her home town, Akranes after several years in Reykjavík, this bleak yet always enthralling crime novel shines a light into the dark recesses of family life.
It's immediately obvious that Elma isn't pleased to be back in Akranes; throughout the book there are hints about her confused emotional state following the end of her long-term relationship. She could be forgiven for thinking her professional life will be quieter in the small town but when the body of a woman is discovered by the local lighthouse, she is soon called upon to investigate the complicated, secretive lives of the people she is now living alongside once again. I found it interesting to note that although some of the townsfolk seemed almost smugly pleased by her return, there was never a clear indication of any particularly strong feelings towards her and I was given the impression that even when she was growing up in Akrakes, she was always something of an outsider. Although we do learn a little about her past, I'm looking forward to discovering more as the series progresses.
As she and her team begin to delve into the murky lives of the community, it becomes chillingly apparent that it was no coincidence that the dead woman was killed in Akranes. They learn that she spent her early years in the town before moving away and it's this short period of her life which Elma is convinced holds the clue to her death. Her boss, Hörður is too close to the people who she begins to suspect may know more than they are letting on - although there is never any suggestion that he is complicit in criminal activities, he is just unable or unwilling to accept that they could be anything more than what he has always known them to be. Elma turns instead to her colleague, Sævar for support and advice and I loved the growing chemistry between the pair.
It's the chapters written from a young girl's perspective in the late '80s and early '90s which left me in no doubt that the truth was going to be sickening and the cleverly plotted storyline slowly reveals the full extent of the horror perpetrated here. That a young girl was neglected and almost certainly abused is never in any doubt, yet there are no gratuitous scenes - instead it's largely left to our imaginations to understand exactly what happened and the book becomes all the more powerful for that. It's undeniably harrowing but this starkly honest novel doesn't just blame those who were immediately involved and The Creak on the Stairs is also a damning reflection on those who realise something is terribly wrong but fail to act upon their suspicions. There is a heartrending poignancy to the story as it recognises that if just one person had been prepared to speak up, more than one tragedy may have been avoided. 
Although there is a sense of resolution, there is no happy ending here and nor should there be; this is Nordic Noir at its very best and it's a melancholic, sharply perceptive examination of what lies hidden behind the thin veneer of society. Victoria Cribb's superb translation ensured the storyline flowed naturally throughout and though the subjects explored are difficult, the book is never less than compelling. I also really appreciated the handy pronunciation guide included  - although I suspect my attempts are still woeful! The Creak on the Stairs promises that the Forbidden Iceland series is going to be unmissable - I can't wait to read more.

The Creak on the Stairs is published by Orenda Books, it is available now in ebook and will be out in paperback on 28th May 2020. Purchasing links can be found here but please consider supporting our fantastic independent bookstores whenever possible.

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour. details are below.


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.

Comments

  1. Thanks so much for the blog tour support Karen xx

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