Book review: The Bird Tribunal by Agnes Ravatn

The book:

The Bird Tribunal by Agnes Ravatn
Published in 2016 by Orenda
Pages: 276

The blurb:

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.

My thoughts…

I had been hearing a lot of good things about this book, but didn’t really know anything about it, so I went into it without any real knowledge or expectations. 

What is incredible about this novel is that the vast majority of it revolves around just two characters … and what is even more exceptional is that the author manages to pull this off. I felt that this worked because the two characters are so intriguing – Allis is mysteriously on the run from a scandalous past, while the man she goes to live with is surly and brusque – and seemingly has several secrets of his own. This makes it a real page turner as you try and fit the pieces together, and find out what happens to these two unusual characters. 

The isolated setting of the book also adds to the creepiness of the novel, and definitely cranks up the sense of mystery and foreboding. You can sense something bad is just around the corner…

I loved reading this short novel and trying to work out what was going on. The two main characters are both odd but this adds to the mystery and makes you want to read on. It is one of those books you want to spend a day curled up with, with no interruptions! (Although you could argue that describes any book…)

The only thing that bugged me – enough to make me knock off a star – was the lack of quotation marks, which at times made the book confusing and is one of my pet hates! But other than that minor gripe, I thought this was a really fantastic and creepy little thriller.

My rating: 9 out of 10



  1. I loved this one too! It really was a page-turner, even though much of the time not all that much actually happened, but there was this sense of anticipation and so much tension whenever the two characters were in the same space!

    Liked by 1 person

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