Two people in exile. Two secrets. As the past tightens its grip, there may be no escape… TV presenter Allis Hagtorn leaves her partner and her job to take voluntary exile in a 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.
Continuing my current reading pattern of eye catching black, gray and red covers is The Bird Tribunal. A disturbingly eerie story of two strangers brought together under suspicious circumstances. When the story begins we are introduced to Allis as she arrives at the remote, isolated home of Sigurd Bagge, her new employer. She seems to have abruptly left behind her previous life to take the job as Bagge’s gardener and housekeeper. Many questions surround Allis…but two of the biggest are what is she running from and why?…is she mentally unstable or just a little quirky? I have to say, I found Allis to be surprisingly witty and sarcastic at times and at other times I thought she definitely had a screw loose.
As for Bagge, he appears to be in hiding but from what? And why? We are led to believe that he needs Allis only temporarily until his wife returns; however , he never really says where she went or when she’ll return. Combine the secrets between these two with their escalating attraction to each other, add in the isolated, confining setting and you’ve got a page-turning novel that begs the questions…What is going on with these two and how will it all end?
I found myself completely drawn into this story, sometimes thinking poor Allis, she’s in over her head with Bagge and then after a few pages thinking poor Bagge, he doesn’t know what’s in store for him if Allis turns out to be completely off her rocker. For me, this is what makes this book a true page-turner – the inability to decipher who I could trust and the constant sense of below the surface menace that surrounded these characters. You just know something’s bound to go very wrong for one or both of these two! I did wonder if the book would feel complete with only 185 pages but that actually seemed to be the perfect length to tell this story. If you like to be immersed in an eerie setting where you never quite know who’s telling the truth or what’s going to happen next you’ll want to read this book.
*** Many thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda books for rushing this to my kindle on Thursday as well as sending me a print copy to share with my book club***
***I also want to note that Rosie Hedger did an outstanding job translating, none of the strange was missing in this story!***