The Bird Tribunal by Agnes Ravatn is a beautifully written and translated book (from Norwegian by Rosie Hedger). The writing has a lot of space in it and yet at times the reader feels boxed in by the characters’ claustrophobic existence. The reader is given just enough information to piece together the story. It really was a joy to read. I felt compelled to keep reading and had no idea where the story was going to end up. I could not tell which character was good and which was bad. At times it read like a love story and at other times is was so, so dark.
The book has a sprinkling of folklore in it which I liked as well as quite some attention payed to food and the rhythm of daily meals in an otherwise very quiet house. The seasons also feature quite strongly as our main character Allis works in the garden of her new employer’s home on a remote fjord in Norway. These elements lend an ebb and flow to the story which makes it feel very believable. The story is easily imagined as a film. A beautiful, quiet, intense kind of film with little dialogue. Indeed, the book has already been turned into a play which premiered in Oslo in 2015.
It is not a long book but it is contains an emotional roller coaster ride that may leave the reader feeling quite exhausted by the end. I will definitely read any other of Ravatn’s books if they are translated. One of the best psychological thrillers I have read for a long time.
Published by Orenda Books