University professor Nina is at a turning point. Her work seems increasingly irrelevant, her doctor husband is never home, relations with her adult daughter Ingeborg are strained, and their beautiful house is scheduled for demolition.
When Ingeborg decides to move into another house they own, things take a very dark turn. The young woman who rents it disappears, leaving behind her son, the day after Nina and Ingeborg 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.
The Seven Doors was an interesting take on the crime novel, the police very much in the background, as they appeared monetarily. It was, I think obvious intent from the author, Ravatn as she decided to concentrate on the effects it had on not only Nina and her family but also on Nina herself as she reached a crossroads in her personal and professional life.
Nina, an academic and lecturer in literature, was I felt at that stage in her career when perhaps her students and indeed her subject had moved beyond what stimulated and interested her. Ravatn made her question her role but also the validity of what she taught, and maybe it was coincidence or fate that saw her stand in for a colleague on a literary panel at the same time as the young mother that rented their house,that caused the perfect storm, the perfect reason to up end her whole life.
It was also at this point that Ravatn made it that much more interesting than your normal crime novel. Who else would have thought that a literature professor would proclaim the analytical skills required in her role made her the perfect candidate to assist in solving police crime? In some ways she was right as Nina slowly plugged away with a determination to find out what happened to Mari, the young mother, as she probed into the psychology behind doctor patient transference and the old fairy tales that highlighted the relationships between men and women.
Now if Ravatn had concentrated purely on this aspect it would have produced a very one sided novel, but we need not have worried as slowly Mari’s disappearance moved closer and closer to her own doorstep. Ravatn littered her narrative with clues that led first one way and then another, the tensions of a house move, of christmas, of winter weather that brought the family together, that created a claustrophobic and tense nervous feeling, that you knew could explode at any moment.
It wasn’t a huge explosion of high drama, but understated, subtle, words used to carry feeling and emotion, guilt and regret, answers revealed that shocked and stunned. The way forward hung in the air only for the very last sentence to cause a huge intake of breath, an abrupt but brilliant ending that made you stop and think about what you had just read.
Yet, again the perfect novel form Agnes Ravatn.
I would like to thank Orenda for a copy of The Seven Doors to read and review and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours fro inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.
About the author
Agnes Ravatn (b. 1983) is a Norwegian 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 revealed a unique, witty voice and sharp eye for human fallibility.
Her second novel, The Bird Tribunal (Fugletribuanlet), was an international bestseller translated into fifteen languages, 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.