The Seven Doors by Agnes Ravatn (tr. by Rosie Hedger) #BookReview #BlogTour


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.

It's my pleasure to be hosting the blog tour for The Seven Doors today. Many thanks to Agnes Ravatn, Orenda Books and Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me and for my advance copy of the novel.

The tale of Bluebeard and his seven wives gives The Seven Doors its title and it's fitting that a story about the consequences of (female) curiosity should feature so strongly in this hauntingly atmospheric drama. The plot may revolve around the death of a young woman but this slow-burning, character-driven novel is ultimately about the stories and layers of secrets that hide behind even the most ostensibly respectable lives.
Mari Nilsen makes only the briefest appearance in the book when she is called upon by Nina Wisløff and her high-handed, rather melodramatic daughter, Ingeborg yet she makes a lasting impression on the other characters and on the reader. Ingeborg's house has a silverfish infestation and is the somewhat preposterous reason why she has decided she must move house - with her pregnancy seemingly an almost secondary consideration. Nina and her husband, Mads are also going through a period of property upheaval and when we meet them at the start of the book, they are meeting a lawyer to discuss the demolition of their current - and Nina's childhood - home. While Nina begins the apparently fruitless search for a new home, Ingeborg decides that Nina and Mads second home would be the perfect place for her, Eirik, her husband and their small daughter, Milja. She carelessly overwhelms the current tenant, Mari and her little boy, Ask, so Nina is perturbed to discover that just three days later the young woman has gone missing. 
Nina is the primary character in The Seven Doors and she is a complex woman whose outwardly settled life - she is a 61 year-old university professor of literature - belies her quiet restlessness and dissatisfaction in both her marriage and her work. She appears to be the more passive member of the family, unable to stand up to the more domineering Mads, Ingeborg or even little Milja but there's a persistent desire within her, perhaps driven by the change in her living circumstances at this point her her life, which leads her to take a personal interest in Mari's disappearance even as it seems likely that the talented but sensitive musician had mental health issues that led to her death.
Although undoubtedly a psychological suspense mystery, The Seven Doors is also a dark, compulsive portrait of a modern family, the secrets that are kept and the emotional repercussions that result from the terrible truth eventually become known as the narrative grows increasingly tense towards the final few pages. These are flawed lives and the sparse, melancholy writing suits what is eventually a tragedy for all concerned. Love, loss and deception intertwine in a story which is perhaps less about the dramatic reveal - I had guessed the truth long before it is disclosed  - and more about the relationships of those involved. The Seven Doors encapsulates the very essence of Nordic Noir and Rosie Hedger's excellent translation expresses the compelling gloominess perfectly. 

The Seven Doors is published by Orenda Books, it is available now in ebook and will be out in paperback on 17th September 2020. Purchasing links can be found here.   

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              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.



Post a Comment