Title: The Seven Doors
Author: Agnes Ravatn
Translator: Rosie Hedger
Publisher: Orenda Books
Publication Date: 17th September 2020
University professor Nina is at a turning point. Her work seems increasingly irrelevant, her doctor husband is never home, relations with her difficult daughter are strained, and their beautiful house is scheduled for demolition.
When her daughter decides to move into another house they own, things take a very dark turn. The young woman living there disappears, leaving her son behind, the day after Nina and her daughter 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.
Exquisitely dark and immensely powerful, The Seven Doors is a sophisticated and deeply disturbing psychological thriller from one of Norway’s most distinguished voices.
I was so intrigued by The Seven Doors because I am a big fan of both translated fiction and nordic noir and I’m pleased to say this book is honestly a perfect example of both. The story follows Nina, a University professor who becomes involved and slightly obsessed with an investigation into a missing woman who lived in a house belonging to Nina and her husband.
What I really loved about The Seven Doors is it felt quite different to the often pretty violent and gritty books in this genre I usually read. Don’t get me wrong, I love those too, but it was really interesting to read a thriller where everything is about the feeling of unease and a slow build of intensity which arrives at a shocking conclusion. There was so much to enjoy in this book. Nina is a really compelling character to follow, I particularly liked that she was a slightly older woman than is often the main character in a mystery. I think her maturity brought something different to the table and the place she is at in her life is fascinating. She is losing her long time home as it is scheduled for demolition and has a slightly strained relationship with her wilful daughter, Ingeborg. Then she becomes embroiled in the life of a young single mother with a mysterious and confusing story. Things get more and complicated as she discovers more about what led to this woman’s disappearance and it brings up fractures and issues in her own life, work and relationships. There is also a brilliantly thought out connection to the darker side of fairytales and folktales which I adored.
The Seven Doors is intelligently and elegantly written and translated beautifully, as far as I can tell. It brings to mind classics like Du Maurier’s Rebecca with it’s quiet discontent and unease which will linger in the mind of the reader long after they have turned the last page. If you are looking for a unique and sophisticated read with all that is engaging about nordic noir then The Seven Doors is sure to impress.
Thank you so much to Anne Cater of Random Things Blog Tours for inviting me on this tour and organising it. I kindly received a e-copy of the book from the publisher. My review is my own honest opinion.