The Bird Tribunal – Agnes Ravatn


Welcome to Have Books stop on The Bird Tribunal blog tour!

About the bookthe-bird-tribunal-a_w-v4

Published: 30th July 2016 (Orenda Books) – Translated by Rosie Hedger

TV presenter Allis Hagtorn leaves her partner and her job to take voluntary exile in remote house on an isolated fjord. But her new job as housekeeper and gardener is not all that it seems, and her silent, surly employer, 44-year-old Sigurd Bagge, is not the old man she expected. As they await the return of his wife from her travels, their silent, uneasy encounters develop into a chilling, obsessive relationship, and it becomes clear that atonement for past sins may not be enough. Haunting, consuming and powerful, The Bird Tribunal is a taut, exquisitely written psychological thriller that builds to a shocking, dramatic crescendo that will leave you breathless.

My Review

The cover of The Bird Tribunal is so appropriate, all looks calm and peaceful on the surface but all is definitely not what it seems.

Opening with the arrival of Allis at the home of Sigurd Bagge, it is obvious that Allis is running from something however it’s not clear what. Sigurd is stand-offish and unsociable, truly treating Allis like the hired help whilst his wife is absent. The whole narrative surrounds Allis and Sigurd, which Ravatn has done brilliantly well as it cannot be easy to create such a tense plot with only 2 characters in 1 location as The Bird Tribunal is mostly set at Sigurd’s home.

The remoteness of Sigurd’s house is a huge component in the build up of tension, Ravatn really demonstrates how isolated and remote the location is, and that Allis is at the complete mercy of Sigurd and his interchangeable moods. Right from the beginning it is intriguing as to why Allis has deliberately entered this suffocating environment and why she puts up with him!

The tension built up through the narrative of this book is amazing, at times I had to put the book down just to compose myself! Seemingly nothing is happening but at the same time, so much is happening. The strangest thing about the narrative is it doesn’t feel like its going anywhere which is actually the strongest element in creating the tension (how many times can I mention the word tense or tension but my gosh, it is in absolute bucket-loads!!). Throughout the story, the mystery is being built up and there is this sense of danger but it is not evident as to where/what/whom the danger is from.

If a fast-paced, action filled thriller is what you are after then this possibly isn’t what you are looking for however if you are after a sophisicated, cleverly plotted, mysterious pyschological thriller then The Bird Tribunal is definitely for you!

A brilliant read which has been fantastically translated by Rosie Hedger.

Many thanks to Karen at Orenda Books for my copy of The Bird Tribunal.

About Agnes Ravatn

agnes-ravatn-ashxAgnes 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 three critically acclaimed and award-winning essay collections: Standing, Popular Reading and Operation Self discipline, in which she recounts her experience with social media addiction, and how she overcame it. 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. The Bird Tribunal was also made into a successful play, which premiered in Oslo in 2015.


About Rosie Hedger

Rosie Hedger was born in Scotland and completed her MA (Hons) in Scandinavian Studies at the University of Edinburgh, where she graduated with a distinction in Norwegian. Rosie spent a year at the University of Oslo, taking courses in Norwegian language and literature and researching for her dissertation on contemporary Norwegian fiction. Since completing her studies, Rosie has also lived in Sweden and Denmark, and is now based in the UK.

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