Alone and isolated in a vast Scandinavian forest, a therapist begins to read her client’s novel manuscript, only to discover the main character is terrifyingly familiar…
You are her therapist.
Kristina is a successful therapist in central Oslo. She spends her days helping clients navigate their lives with a cool professionalism that has got her to the top.
She is your client.
But when her client Leah, a successful novelist, arrives at her office clearly distressed, begging Kristina to come to her remote cabin in the woods, she feels the balance begin to slip.
But out here in the woods.
When Leah fails to turn up to her next two sessions, Kristina reluctantly heads out into the wilderness to find her.
Nothing is as it seems.
Alone and isolated, Kristina finds Leah’s unfinished manuscript, and as she reads she realises the main character is terrifyingly familiar…
I’m all for a psychological thriller with flashing sirens and the requisite characters chasing all over but every now and again you want something that’s a little slower, that takes its time, allows you to think about the themes and the characters and Cabin Fever was all that and more.
Dahl was a master of building those all important foundations, the beautiful psychotherapist, Kristina, married to a successful politician, the beautiful home and wealth, but scratch below the surface and it was altogether different.
The famous author Leah, damaged by domestic abuse, Kristina’s patient until one day she didn’t turn up, and Kristina knew she had to find out why. Her best friend Elizabeth the third wheel who held the all important key to Kristina’s own past.
Yet the why’s were so much more, as Dahl cracked open the psyche of all three women, gave them their own voices, all the better for the reader to try and understand their reasoning, their actions.
At first they all appeared victims, and yes they were but it was what the affects and what they chose to do with their experiences that Dahl so brilliantly analysed.
I bought into Kristina’s ‘goodness’ her actions all done with the best of intentions, Leah the perpetrator, the manipulator, the one who stacked all the cards before they all gradually began to crumple. Dahl was so clever in using her unfinished manuscript as a lever that forced Kristina’s to examine her own psyche, to realise she had been played but for us the reader a different story emerged. Here was a woman who was the ultimate control freak, not only of herself but also of others, her clever use of words, use of triggers was wonderfully fascinating and you couldn’t help but admire Dahl’s skill. Dahl had obviously done her research, and translated it so brilliantly to the page.
Yet Dahl also gave us suspense and a thrilling tense nervousness, the isolated cabin, the falling snow, the dense dark forest at night, blood, a missing gun. A woman alone, emotions all over the place, fear ever present, the reality of the who and the what full of spine tingling uncertainty that I lapped up.
I tried multiple times to understand, even guess the conclusion as Dahl switched between past and present, between Kristina and Elizabeth, the cabin and the manuscript. When Kristina’s husband turned up at the cabin you weren’t sure wether you felt relief or if something else, another surprise lay in store.
The truth when it emerged was shocking, unexpected but perfectly fitting, lives left shattered, yet justice imminent.
If you like an intelligent extremely well written novel that examined the psychology of its characters, that perfect balanced it with all the aspects of a fabulous tense thriller then Cabin Fever was definitely right at the top of the pile.
I would like to thank Head Of Zeus for a copy of Cabin Fever to read and review and to Midas PR for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.
About the author
Alex Dahl is a half-American, half-Norwegian author. Born in Oslo, she studied Russian and German linguistics with international studies, then went on to complete an MA in creative writing at Bath Spa University and an MSc in business management at Bath University. A committed Francophile, Alex loves to travel, and has so far lived in Moscow, Paris, Stuttgart, Sandefjord, Switzerland, Bath and London. She is the author of three other thrillers: Playdate, The Heart Keeper, and The Boy at the Door, which was shortlisted for the CWA Debut Dagger.
Follow Alex on Twitter (@alexdahlauthor), Instagram (@authoralex) and Facebook (alexdahlauthor).