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TV presenter Allis Hagtorn leaves her partner and her job to take voluntary exile in 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 TV presenter Allis Hagtorn leaves her partner and her job to take voluntary exile in 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.


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TV presenter Allis Hagtorn leaves her partner and her job to take voluntary exile in 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 TV presenter Allis Hagtorn leaves her partner and her job to take voluntary exile in 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.

30 review for The Bird Tribunal

  1. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea Humphrey

    Guess who is finally out of her reading slump? THIS GIRL! It has been so long since I’ve read a 5 star book that I was beginning to wonder if something was wrong with me. (The one I posted earlier was read weeks ago so it doesn’t count!) When Karen at Orenda books said she was sending me some winners in the mail all the way from the UK, I knew they would be enjoyable based on my fellow bloggers reviews; I just didn’t know they would be all around stunning, absorbing, and gripping. I cannot expre Guess who is finally out of her reading slump? THIS GIRL! It has been so long since I’ve read a 5 star book that I was beginning to wonder if something was wrong with me. (The one I posted earlier was read weeks ago so it doesn’t count!) When Karen at Orenda books said she was sending me some winners in the mail all the way from the UK, I knew they would be enjoyable based on my fellow bloggers reviews; I just didn’t know they would be all around stunning, absorbing, and gripping. I cannot express how deeply I fell in love with this little book; while it came in at 185 pages it packed a huge wallop. I was completely taken from page 1, and if hadn’t come down with a nasty cold which made me loopy in the head and sleepy, I would have finished it in a single sitting. It’s THAT good. Clearly by the description you know off the bat that this is psychological suspense, but what you don’t know is that it’s a twisted and addictive love story. I kept thinking to myself “If it’s wrong for me to be cheering on the collaboration of these two oddballs then I DON’T WANT TO BE RIGHT”. That’s right, I’m completely warped and was sucked into this cat and mouse game of what the heck is going on. From the very beginning you are on this train headed for disaster, and while knowing that, you can’t jump off and save yourself. It’s really hard to pin down a single genre to categorize this tale in; while it definitely is a psychological suspense, it was simultaneously dark and light. It was disturbing, yet endearing; I’ve never read a book that has posed such a conundrum in trying to describe it, so I’ll just let it fly free and not try to nail it down to any one category. (See what I did there?) I can’t believe I’m about to say this, as I despise Gone Girl comparisons, but if you liked the feeling that book gave you, I think you’ll like this even more. The plot is completely different, but I experienced that same mind-warped feeling after reading both books. Don’t let the length fool you; this was well done and didn’t lack in any aspects or details. Plus, the cover is gorgeous! I would highly recommend this to all fans of psychological/domestic suspense; those who like their dark and creepy with little to no gore will especially like this one as the author uses other writing tactics to give you the heebie jeebies. Buy it, buy it, BUY IT! I hope more translations of upcoming work from this author are in the works, because I’ll pick up whatever she writes next without even checking the book jacket. Again, THAT good. *Multitude of thanks to Karen at Orenda Books for my copy; you delivered and I trust your every recommendation from now on!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Paula

    The Bird Tribunal is not your typical Scandi Nordic thriller, but watch out, it sure is dark and disturbing. Allis Hagtorn leaves her life to seek refuge from her past. She takes a job as a cook and gardener in a remote and isolated Norwegian fjord. She finds her employer is not what she expected. Sigurd Bagge is a brooding middle aged man who is moody and unsettling. No car. No tv. No internet. Only a rundown garden and a wine cellar. This tense psychological thriller gives you a feel of forebod The Bird Tribunal is not your typical Scandi Nordic thriller, but watch out, it sure is dark and disturbing. Allis Hagtorn leaves her life to seek refuge from her past. She takes a job as a cook and gardener in a remote and isolated Norwegian fjord. She finds her employer is not what she expected. Sigurd Bagge is a brooding middle aged man who is moody and unsettling. No car. No tv. No internet. Only a rundown garden and a wine cellar. This tense psychological thriller gives you a feel of foreboding throughout the book. Allis and Sigurd’s relationships turns to the obsessive. There are plenty of secrets from both sides that are haunting. A chilling, atmospheric, short read that you can’t put down. Outstanding. 4 out of 5 stars

  3. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    The Bird Tribunal by Norwegian author Agnes Ravatn is a strange and chilling little tale. This small, perfectly crafted novel takes hold of you on page one and leads you on an increasingly uneasy journey. I really didn’t know where it was heading and it had been on my kindle so long I wasn’t even sure what genre I was reading. Allis Hagtorn arrives at a house in the forest, miles from anywhere. She’s taken up a vague position caring for a house and its occupant, Sigurd Bagge. Sigurd is a big, midd The Bird Tribunal by Norwegian author Agnes Ravatn is a strange and chilling little tale. This small, perfectly crafted novel takes hold of you on page one and leads you on an increasingly uneasy journey. I really didn’t know where it was heading and it had been on my kindle so long I wasn’t even sure what genre I was reading. Allis Hagtorn arrives at a house in the forest, miles from anywhere. She’s taken up a vague position caring for a house and its occupant, Sigurd Bagge. Sigurd is a big, middle aged man and doesn’t seem to be ill or particularly in need of care. At first he’s a blank canvas, a bit strange - he doesn’t say much and seems secretive. He has a wife but she’s not around. Allis prepares meals and tames the unruly garden. We gather early on that she’s a tv personality, escaping a well publicised scandal. Gradually this odd couple settle into a quiet domestic routine. Seasons change. So much isn’t said that our minds automatically start trying to fill in the gaps. There’s an eeriness, and the tension grows. Is this going to be a ghost story, horror novel, thriller, love story, work of straight literary fiction or magic realism? Well into the book I still had no idea ….… and I must admit I liked that! Gradually Allis uncovers disturbing secrets and everything comes into focus. The novel is beautifully written, shot through with a simple lyricism - the isolation of the house amongst the trees, the still water of the Fiord bound by black granite, the constant presence of nature and wildlife, are all clearly invoked. This is a dark and mysterious tale that held me throughout.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Miriam Smith (A Mother’s Musings)

    The thing with the "Bird Tribunal" by Agnes Ravatn is that it is so spellbinding and mesmerising you won't be able to put it down once you start reading, I couldn't and flew through the book in a couple of days. Hauntingly chilling, the smouldering intrigue that starts the book leaves you with no doubt that this story is going to leave a lasting impression and guarantees that you'll always remember reading it. This brooding and character driven psychological thriller features only two characters, The thing with the "Bird Tribunal" by Agnes Ravatn is that it is so spellbinding and mesmerising you won't be able to put it down once you start reading, I couldn't and flew through the book in a couple of days. Hauntingly chilling, the smouldering intrigue that starts the book leaves you with no doubt that this story is going to leave a lasting impression and guarantees that you'll always remember reading it. This brooding and character driven psychological thriller features only two characters, Aliss Hagtorn and Sigurd Bagge, who are eccentric and intriguing. The story is written uniquely and utterly distinctive but remains beautifully poetic and sophisticated with an enigma of escalating tension and suspense that silently wraps itself deep in your thoughts and doesn't let go. Allis leaves her life in the city, her husband and job, to take voluntary exile in a remote house on an isolated fjord to be a housekeeper/gardener. However, silent and brooding owner, Sigurd Bagge is not the old man she was expecting. As they await the arrival of his wife Nor from her travels, their relationship becomes obsessive, chilling and all consuming but with each hiding dark secrets, it soon becomes clear that atonement for past sins may not be enough. I constantly felt my senses on guard in anticipation of something happening and at times never realised I was holding my breath. I truly LOVED this book and cannot sing it's praises enough! "The Bird Tribunal" is an excellent literary example of Nordic Noir and has been impressively translated by Rosie Hedger. Although quite a quick read this breathtakingly atmospheric slow burner still packs a chilling punch that will leave you very much deep in thought. Can only be a fabulous 5 stars!!!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    This is a book that I have wanted to read for the longest time so I figured I would take the plunge when I saw it was available on Hoopla. I'm trying to make more of an effort of requesting less arcs and catching up on books that I've been wanting to read. This book started out so strong. I love atmospheric and eerie and this was all that and more. Allis is running away from her former life and takes a position as gardener and caretaker of a home run by the forty-something Sigurd Bagge. She is t This is a book that I have wanted to read for the longest time so I figured I would take the plunge when I saw it was available on Hoopla. I'm trying to make more of an effort of requesting less arcs and catching up on books that I've been wanting to read. This book started out so strong. I love atmospheric and eerie and this was all that and more. Allis is running away from her former life and takes a position as gardener and caretaker of a home run by the forty-something Sigurd Bagge. She is there to assist him with these tasks as his wife is away and isn't expected back soon. The sense of foreboding was palpable. Something seems off about Sigurd to Allis and to us as readers and I loved that. My need to know had me finishing this book in a 24 hr period but when all is said and done I was left feeling very *meh* about the entire book. Like, I hate to be a little Miss Braggy Pants, but this was so predictable. People kept mentioning the ending so I kept anticipating this HUGE twist but, alas, there wasn't one. It ended exactly as I had predicted at the onset of the book which made everything else that I loved up to that point just mediocre in the end. 2.5 stars!

  6. 5 out of 5

    ABookwormWithWine

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5 The Bird Tribunal by Agnes Ravatn is one tension-filled, atmospheric ride of a book! What it's about: Allis has run away from her old life and job after a scandal involving one of her bosses. She ends up taking a job in a remote location doing work around the house/garden for a middle-aged man whose wife is away. But both of them are harboring a secret, and everything has to come out eventually... The Bird Tribunal was unlike anything I have ever read before. There are no quotation mar ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5 The Bird Tribunal by Agnes Ravatn is one tension-filled, atmospheric ride of a book! What it's about: Allis has run away from her old life and job after a scandal involving one of her bosses. She ends up taking a job in a remote location doing work around the house/garden for a middle-aged man whose wife is away. But both of them are harboring a secret, and everything has to come out eventually... The Bird Tribunal was unlike anything I have ever read before. There are no quotation marks in it, but again, it worked for this book. The only other book this has worked for me in was You Were Made for This by Michelle Sacks. There isn't a ton of action per say, but the atmospheric quality of the book and the tension between Allis and Sigurd were enough to keep me reading. There are less than two hundred pages but it was still somewhat of a slow read for me, and I highly recommend taking your time with this one. I felt lonely just reading The Bird Tribunal and I think it evokes some interesting emotions. Finial Thought: This was my first time reading a Nordic noir novel and I really liked it! I came across The Bird Tribunal on http://crimebythebook.com and I will definitely be reading more of Abby's recommendations. I would also be interested in reading more from Ravatn. Her writing style is certainly unique, and I loved the way she made this novel feel.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kate~Bibliophile Book Club

    The Bird Tribunal is one of the most unsettling books I’ve read in a long time. Following Allis and Sigurd’s progress through the book is almost like a character study. Both characters are clearly battling personal demons, and as the book unfolds it becomes much clearer why they are both so isolated in a physical and emotional sense. Initially, Allis’s job as housekeeper and gardener keeps her busy but it does little to dispel the cold atmosphere created by Bagge in his home. When their relations The Bird Tribunal is one of the most unsettling books I’ve read in a long time. Following Allis and Sigurd’s progress through the book is almost like a character study. Both characters are clearly battling personal demons, and as the book unfolds it becomes much clearer why they are both so isolated in a physical and emotional sense. Initially, Allis’s job as housekeeper and gardener keeps her busy but it does little to dispel the cold atmosphere created by Bagge in his home. When their relationship is turned on its head, this atmosphere becomes wrought with tension and at times, fear. The Bird Tribunal is menacing, chilling and threatening in equal measure. Every turn of the page brings the reader closer to the unexpectedly gripping finale and it will leave you breathless as you will not see it coming. I cannot recommend The Bird Tribunal highly enough. Disturbing, cold and completely unnerving, I could not put it down. All the stars. Exceptional!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Brenda

    Allis has done something so grievous that she’s run from her old life and taken a post as a housekeeper/gardener in a remote location. Her employer, Sigurd Bagge, has his own secrets. This was an atmospheric read that reminded me of Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier. There was a strong sense of foreboding, but little action. There seemed to be some symbolism with Norse mythology, but I didn't care enough to make a serious effort to suss out. The blurb calls this a “psychological thriller that builds t Allis has done something so grievous that she’s run from her old life and taken a post as a housekeeper/gardener in a remote location. Her employer, Sigurd Bagge, has his own secrets. This was an atmospheric read that reminded me of Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier. There was a strong sense of foreboding, but little action. There seemed to be some symbolism with Norse mythology, but I didn't care enough to make a serious effort to suss out. The blurb calls this a “psychological thriller that builds to a shocking, dramatic crescendo that will leave you breathless.” It didn't end that way for me. 🤷‍♀️

  9. 4 out of 5

    Crime by the Book

    This taught, non-traditional suspense novel kept me immersed from start to finish. This book isn't a "whodunnit" or even a "why-have-they-done-it" - it's a haunting, trance-like story of two strangers living on an isolated fjord, and how secrets from their past come slowly to the surface. Brooding, richly atmospheric, and darkly entrancing. Full review on CBTB: http://crimebythebook.com/blog/2016/1... This taught, non-traditional suspense novel kept me immersed from start to finish. This book isn't a "whodunnit" or even a "why-have-they-done-it" - it's a haunting, trance-like story of two strangers living on an isolated fjord, and how secrets from their past come slowly to the surface. Brooding, richly atmospheric, and darkly entrancing. Full review on CBTB: http://crimebythebook.com/blog/2016/1...

  10. 4 out of 5

    ReadsSometimes

    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. This book is 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. This book is mesmerising. A truly captivating story that pulls you in. I found I was compelled to turn the pages anxious for the book to reveal some revelations. It keeps you waiting for more as each chapter builds a slow development of, Allis and Sigurd's strange and awkward relationship. Their emotions cover the full spectrum and this transcends to the reader. It's a slow burner, but still extremely compelling. Very atmospheric and in parts poetic. Tense, captivating, suspenseful and exquisitely written. I was waiting for a massive crescendo towards the end, but looking back, I guess this was never the style of the book. Very psychologically challenging and a seriously absorbing read. A good and slightly different read. A good 4*

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    Allis Hagtorn has left her life in the city behind, instead electing to take self imposed exile working as a housekeeper and gardener at a home on a remote and isolated fjord. She had expected to find herself in the employ of an older man, someone for whom upkeep of the property would be too much. However, Sigurd Bagge is nothing like she had expected. In his forties and of seemingly sound mind and body, she can see no reason why he should need her help. However, she is grateful of the job, than Allis Hagtorn has left her life in the city behind, instead electing to take self imposed exile working as a housekeeper and gardener at a home on a remote and isolated fjord. She had expected to find herself in the employ of an older man, someone for whom upkeep of the property would be too much. However, Sigurd Bagge is nothing like she had expected. In his forties and of seemingly sound mind and body, she can see no reason why he should need her help. However, she is grateful of the job, thankful for a means to escape the mistakes of her past. Bagge is a strange man, reluctant to spend any time with Allis, instructing her only on when he will take his meals and to take care of the garden, his wife’s pride and joy. He can give her no indication of when they should expect his wife’s return, asking only if she can stay for the summer, which Allis readily agrees to. For she is growing slightly obsessed with this strange man and as their interactions begin to change, as they spend more time together, Allis finds that she will do anything to convince Bagge to spend time with her, no matter how quickly his moods seem to change. As their relationship begins to develop, they become more open with each other. But both have secrets they have been hiding, and sometimes simply seeking forgiveness for prior sins is not enough. How do I begin? ‘The Bird Tribunal’ by Agnes Ravatn is quite unlike anything I have read before. From the very beginning, it was clear that to go on this journey with Allis meant setting aside my afternoon, because just like a fog across the fjord, the book surrounding me, enveloping my psyche so completely that I couldn’t step away before the final page was turned. From the hauntingly poetic narrative to the total isolation of the setting, Ravatn has created a piece of work that I am still not clear if I fully understand and if I am honest, I am still questioning myself now. There is a certain kind of ambiguity to the text, to the way it is written. Told in Allis’ voice, there are no speech marks anywhere. I’ll admit that this seemed a little confusing at first, but instead of forcing me out of the story, ejecting me, it forced me to concentrate more on what I was reading; to take the time to try and understand what was actually being said and what was merely happening inside of Allis’s head. And believe me that is a very clever ploy by Ravatn, feeding into and reflecting the whole atmosphere of the story itself. So much of the building tension and threat is based on Allis’s confusion, her misunderstanding and assumption of what is happening, that as a reader, I found myself in almost the exact same place. Second guessing what is fact and what is fiction. Allis is what could safely be called an unreliable narrator. Confused and suffering emotional scars from the loss of her job and the breakdown of her marriage, she is a character already on a precipice. Used to being in the public eye, her shame has seen her go into hiding, but far from the escape she had pictured, the isolation of the fjord, and her limited contact with anyone other than Bagge, begins to see her psyche and her confidence slowly unravel. A lot of the tension and fear factor comes from being inside of Allis’s head as she starts to see something sinister in everything that happens. To second guess her employer and his motives. To doubt his integrity. She jumps at every shadow, every noise, adding to the level of apprehension for the reader and making this a psychological tale in the truest sense. And Bagge? He is a man keeping many secrets, his mood swings so extreme. Despite wanting Allis’s company, he seems determined to push her away, to scare her into leaving, so much so that you just know he is hiding something. But just how sinister is his secret? For me Bagge was an introvert to Allis’s more extrovert nature. While he craved solitude as penance for a perceived sin, Allis needed and craved his company. No matter how badly he treated her, she sought to impress him, every action carefully planned to try and intrigue and engage this very solitary man. And, like Allis, I wanted him to reappear too, wanted to know more about him, to learn his story. Bagge is a man of multiple personalities. Engaging one minute, he is distance the next. His moods range from placid to highly aggressive and can turn on a dime. The volatility and unpredictable nature of the man create a sense of danger which is almost as potent from his absences as it is when he is in the room with Allis. And the implicit threat which comes when they talk of the shopkeeper’s disappearance make you wonder the true nature of the man. But as their obsessive relationship gathers momentum, you know that this cannot ever end well. I have seen others tell of a feeling of claustrophobia which comes from the text. Despite the open space in which the book is set, it is truly isolating. With very little deviation, the story centres around Allis and Bagge, other characters appearing only fleetingly on the page. Most of the action takes place in the house, and even when Allis tries to run or to leave for the city, she is drawn back so quickly that is almost as though she has never truly left, that much like Bagge, she is tied to the house. And because Bagge spends so much time shut away, almost everything seems to happen in Allis’s head, confining the readers experience even more and adding to the sensation of the walls closing in. But perhaps this is an extrovert’s perspective. As an introvert, the idea of isolation and solitude doesn’t bother me in the way it does Allis, and wouldn’t play into my fear centre in the same way if I wasn’t seeing it through her eyes, feeling it through her thoughts. So much of the chilling imagery throughout adds to that building sense of foreboding. From the outset it is clear that something is not right in the house or with Bagge. From the eponymous ‘bird tribunal’, to Allis’s discovery of the small birds caught in the traps she had set for catching mice, Ravatn manages to slowly build the tension to a breath-catching crescendo, before an almost mystical feeling of calm settles across the narrative in the final pages. Bringing me back to where I started. Second guessing myself. Was what I read real, or was it all in Allis’s head? Is she a simple victim of an increasingly obsessive relationship with Bagge, or is there more to her character? Is the serenity we see in her at the end an indication of the final detachment from her own emotions, or was she already so broken to begin with and everything we have seen has just been the slow devolution of her sanity? Perhaps you should read and decide for yourself. A truly stunning, haunting and chilling 5 star read and such a wonderful translation by Rosie Hedger. Seamless.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Selene

    I loved the way this story began, but then it became very SLOW and dragged to the point where I got bored with the two main characters. The lead female character was an anxious mess. The male lead character's mood swings annoyed me. The mythology parts went way over my head and the lack of quotation marks surrounding the dialogues frustrated me at times. The ending left me scratching my head and feeling a little disappointed. For so long there was nothing happening in this book, and then sudd I loved the way this story began, but then it became very SLOW and dragged to the point where I got bored with the two main characters. The lead female character was an anxious mess. The male lead character's mood swings annoyed me. The mythology parts went way over my head and the lack of quotation marks surrounding the dialogues frustrated me at times. The ending left me scratching my head and feeling a little disappointed. For so long there was nothing happening in this book, and then suddenly, that was it--end of story?! Perhaps I'll revisit this book at another time.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ann Marie (Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine)

    4.5 Stars. What took me so long to read this one? I love the false sense of security I had reading this one. So beautifully written. You know something is going to happen because, hello!!, this is a thriller!, but you really have to WAIT for it. Full review to follow.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    The Bird Tribunal is a claustrophobic two person psychological drama from Norwegian writer, Agnes Ravatn. It has been translated into English. We get to know Allis and Sigurd. Allis is a woman, who has ran away from a scandal and is content to live in a fairly isolated region of Norway. She is employed as a gardener and housekeeper, in spite of having little in the way of green fingers. Sigurd is her boss, a moody silent man. Over the course of the book, we get a kind of romantic relationship evo The Bird Tribunal is a claustrophobic two person psychological drama from Norwegian writer, Agnes Ravatn. It has been translated into English. We get to know Allis and Sigurd. Allis is a woman, who has ran away from a scandal and is content to live in a fairly isolated region of Norway. She is employed as a gardener and housekeeper, in spite of having little in the way of green fingers. Sigurd is her boss, a moody silent man. Over the course of the book, we get a kind of romantic relationship evolving between the two of them. They are both rather odd and not very open. There is a slow anticipation and an overwhelming and inevitable feeling of conflict. The Bird Tribunal forces you into the very small world of two extremely strange main characters. It is undoubtedly very compelling. Everything happens in one location, the home of Sigurd, with two characters and a heavy and disturbing sense of claustrophobia. These two are extremely bad at communicating and sizzle with uneasy tension at each other, from the outset. While I rather enjoyed the slow everyday location, I found Allis and Sigurd just plain odd and an unlikely romantic couple. Allis was very clingy with Sigurd, desperate for male attention and behaving more like a child than a grown woman. Sigurd had very little in the way of interesting redeeming features, disappearing for hours on end and being grumpy. Why on earth did these two get into a relationship with each other? I couldn’t see that they had much in common at all. They both made assumptions about each other and filled in the gaps, with their longings. They are one catastrophe waiting to happen. This is one strange and unsettling novel. I do like a bit of Scandinavian Noir crime. Ravatn mixes horror with the mundane beautifully, with two of the strangest characters. One to get your hands on and to puzzle over!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lee

    This story revolves around only two characters Allis Hagtorn and Sigurd Bagge. Allis is a journalist who has recently had to leave her position and Sigurd is looking for a housekeeper and gardener, Allis decides to take the job to get away. At first she is surprised to see that her new employer is not the old man she presumed who needs her help, Sigurd is 44 years old and Allis believes his wife is away and will return at some point in time. These two characters have many secrets and little trus This story revolves around only two characters Allis Hagtorn and Sigurd Bagge. Allis is a journalist who has recently had to leave her position and Sigurd is looking for a housekeeper and gardener, Allis decides to take the job to get away. At first she is surprised to see that her new employer is not the old man she presumed who needs her help, Sigurd is 44 years old and Allis believes his wife is away and will return at some point in time. These two characters have many secrets and little trust in each other. As time goes on we soon realise that this relationship is all about secrets, lies and obsession. This is a compelling and unsettling story that slowly draws you in, even though it is only 200 pages long.Well written and highly enjoyable.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tara Rock

    This was a remarkable and quite unusual novel. Tremendously atmospheric and only two primary characters. I was completely drawn into this from the beginning and could not stop reading. I would love to read more from Agnes Ravatn.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    What a bizarre, enchanting, darkly chilling little book. I am not in the habit of quoting others' reviews in my own, but there's a blurb from crime writer Rod Reynolds on the book that says 'A masterclass in suspense and delayed terror, reading it felt like I was driving at top speed towards a cliff edge - and not once did I want to take my foot off the pedal' - and I think that sums it up better than I could. I've had this book on my shelf for years, and I can't remember where or how I first hea What a bizarre, enchanting, darkly chilling little book. I am not in the habit of quoting others' reviews in my own, but there's a blurb from crime writer Rod Reynolds on the book that says 'A masterclass in suspense and delayed terror, reading it felt like I was driving at top speed towards a cliff edge - and not once did I want to take my foot off the pedal' - and I think that sums it up better than I could. I've had this book on my shelf for years, and I can't remember where or how I first heard about it, but I think I had it in my head that it was going to be a fairly standard thriller, which I had been in the mood for. But it was no disappointment to me when it turned out to be a different beast entirely. The Bird Tribunal felt to me like a modern-day Scandinavian Rebecca, following a young woman living in the shadow of her enigmatic employer's first wife, but with all the dreary atmosphere and profound social isolation of Wuthering Heights. But though I wouldn't necessarily classify this as a thriller, and I think it might disappoint readers who are specifically seeking out twists and turns, the tension and sense of growing dread I experienced while reading this were palpable. The relationship between Allis and Sigurd is a tender, terrifying thing; this is the hook that gets its claws in you from the offset. Through Allis's first person narration we're drawn into her obsession with Sigurd, a distant, surly man who employs Allis as a kind of housekeeper while he awaits his wife's return. Though Allis is blind to so many of the warning signs that the reader has access to, her obsession with Sigurd doesn't feel unnatural or unrealistic or frustrating - reading this book isn't like watching a train wreck so much as feeling like you're the one steering the train. I wouldn't say I 'enjoyed' this as the sense of discomfort I felt while reading it was pretty significant, but the fact that I stayed up until 1 am finishing this after taking Benadryl two hours earlier since I couldn't tear myself away kind of says it all.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    The Bird Tribunal – A haunting tale The Bird Tribunal from Norwegian writer Agnes Ravatn is a stunning introduction to the writer who has delivered a breath-taking book. This may be a short story and a winner of the English Pen award, but it delivers massive punches throughout the book for the reader and with a structured build up completely gets under your skin. TV presenter Allis Hagtorn leaves her partner and career, she is running away from things, and decides to go in to voluntary exile as a The Bird Tribunal – A haunting tale The Bird Tribunal from Norwegian writer Agnes Ravatn is a stunning introduction to the writer who has delivered a breath-taking book. This may be a short story and a winner of the English Pen award, but it delivers massive punches throughout the book for the reader and with a structured build up completely gets under your skin. TV presenter Allis Hagtorn leaves her partner and career, she is running away from things, and decides to go in to voluntary exile as a housekeeper in a remote house on an isolated fjord. Her job does not just include being the housekeeper and gardener, but she is also taking care of Sigurd Bagge. He is not an old person as she was expecting but a man if 44 years old, who is married, who rarely talks to Allis. All Allis knows that Sigurd’s wife is away touring and that he is awaiting her return, and then what happens to her she has no idea. But there is something strange and unsettling about Sigurd, she can tell he his keeping a secret but no idea as to what it is. Allis comes across, at first, as very self-centred especially as she is acting as the story narrator. As Allis gets to grips with her new life looking after Sigurd, strange things to do happen but nothing that will cause concern. At times Allis comes across as maddening as she is not conventional and not easily likable and it is as if Sigurd is the male version of her. Both know they are keeping secrets from each other, especially as Sigurd has a habit of disappearing, sometimes for hours other times for days. Allis has been told she is not welcome to enter Sigurd bedroom or workroom, and the curiosity drives her crazy. As the story progresses we see a formation of a relationship develop, but there are some serious questions raised as the reader is being psychologically teased throughout. This is a deeply compelling, and at the same time quite unusual story that will keep you gripped throughout. The reader is not sure what will happen but you are drawn in and Allis is a compelling character and Sigurd comes across as eccentric at best, weird at worst. The story and ending is intriguing as you really do not know how this will end, this is truly Norwegian Noir at its eerie best. It can be unsettling, and the translation bring out the best of the haunting prose. This really is a masterclass of suspense and psychological thriller at its best, that will send chills down your spine.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    All of my reviews can be found on www.novelgossip.com I had heard amazing things about The Bird Tribunal for awhile now and while I was very eager to read it myself, I was also a bit apprehensive. I’m sure we’ve all read heavily hyped books and been disappointed by them, but I can happily say that this one deserves all of the hype and more. I’ve never read a book quite like this before, it’s hard to even put my finger on what genre I would classify this under, but I think that only adds to the in All of my reviews can be found on www.novelgossip.com I had heard amazing things about The Bird Tribunal for awhile now and while I was very eager to read it myself, I was also a bit apprehensive. I’m sure we’ve all read heavily hyped books and been disappointed by them, but I can happily say that this one deserves all of the hype and more. I’ve never read a book quite like this before, it’s hard to even put my finger on what genre I would classify this under, but I think that only adds to the intensity and mystery of the story. The world in this story is small, the majority takes place in a very secluded house inhabited by a man named Sigurd Bagge. Allis is the woman he hires to be his housekeeper/gardner and she is desperate to escape her current life, so the opportunity to live in such an inaccessible location is perfect for her. It’s clear from the get go that Bagge is hiding something, there is a very apparent feeling of uneasiness and dread throughout. He reveales very little about himself to Allis, he is shrouded in mystery and any slight details he does share are hauntingly vague. I was so wrapped up in their odd, desolated existence, Ratavan’s writing pulled me right into the house with Bagge and Allis. There were no dialogue/speech markings and instead of alienating me, it only served to draw me deeper into the story. I found it odd that it didn’t bother me as I think it would have if this were any other book, but it worked brilliantly here. She created such a confining and vivid atmosphere that was eerily beautiful, yet unsettling. I worried for Allis living in such a remote location with such a moody and sometimes volatile man such as Bagge. I found myself very anxious and paranoid about the entire situation, but not in an unnerving way, in a protective manner and one where I was yearning to find out what Bagge was hiding from Allis. This book is on the short side but it sure packs one hell of a punch. The ending left me with a sense of peace that I didn’t even realize I was craving. I don’t recall ever being quite so absorbed by a book before and I believe this is due in part by never being exactly sure where things were heading. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys dark, mysterious settings, fascinating characters with secrets and obsessions, and writing that enraptures you and transports you to a chilling and intriguing location.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Raven

    Aside from my fixation on crime fiction, my other reading pleasure comes from the lure of bijou contemporary fiction in translation, so was pretty sure that Agnes Ravatn’s compact Norwegian thriller would tick many boxes… From the outset we are completely immersed in the suffocating claustrophobia and changes of tension that exist in the relationship between Allis Hagtorn and her new employer, the mercurial and distant Sigurd Bagge. Almost instantly I was reminded of one of my favourite books, Em Aside from my fixation on crime fiction, my other reading pleasure comes from the lure of bijou contemporary fiction in translation, so was pretty sure that Agnes Ravatn’s compact Norwegian thriller would tick many boxes… From the outset we are completely immersed in the suffocating claustrophobia and changes of tension that exist in the relationship between Allis Hagtorn and her new employer, the mercurial and distant Sigurd Bagge. Almost instantly I was reminded of one of my favourite books, Embers by Sandor Marai, that is built on the discourse between two characters, and the revelations from the past that come to light. To sustain the reader’s interest with such a compressed cast of characters is always a difficult task, and having read other books that have spectacularly failed in this respect, Ravatn stood tall. Using the dual protagonist structure, with only the intermittent appearance of a local shopkeeper, the reader is anchored firmly in the lives of both Allis and Sigurd, and witness to the unfolding details and changing parameters of their relationship, as if viewing them on a stage with the reader as the single audience member. It’s beautifully done. As Ravatn slowly reveals the emotionally charged and turbulent details of both character’s back stories, where we are, in common with Allis, slightly on the back foot, she weaves a story laden with myth, guilt and undulating emotions. By incorporating the essence of myth, and the consistent references to the changeability of nature, our sense of reality is manipulated, and sometimes the writing attains a dreamlike quality, affecting our perception of Allis and Sigurd and their true natures and intentions. In common with Patricia Highsmith, and early Ruth Rendell, Ravatn ramps up the psychological tension and underlying menace, and I liked the allusion to another seminal work of English fiction, which would act as too much of a spoiler if I was to mention it here. The writing, and the dialogue, in particular is clipped and measured, and every sentence seems to exist under the weight of precise authorial intention. No word or image is wasted. When you encounter a book like this with its unique intensity, it does return to your thoughts now and again. That to me is a sign of a good book and The Bird Tribunal more than fits the description. It’s dark, psychologically tense and packed full of emotion both overt or deliberately disguised, with the reader invited to fill the spaces between. Not forgetting the flawless translation by Rosie Hedger too. Highly recommended.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Liz Barnsley

    Atmospheric drama beautifully written especially when it comes to descriptive sense of place. Full review to come on the blog tour.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Bettie

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08b7ttr Description: In the Norwegian writer Agnes Ravatn's haunting psychological thriller, two people, each with a secret, seek atonement for past sins. TV presenter Allis Hagtorn seeks solace in a remote house on an isolated fjord when she takes up a new job as a housekeeper and gardener. Her 44 year old employer is not what she is expecting. Sigurd Bagge is an enigmatic presence, and Allis, like a moth to a flame, finds she is simultaneously drawn to him and a http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08b7ttr Description: In the Norwegian writer Agnes Ravatn's haunting psychological thriller, two people, each with a secret, seek atonement for past sins. TV presenter Allis Hagtorn seeks solace in a remote house on an isolated fjord when she takes up a new job as a housekeeper and gardener. Her 44 year old employer is not what she is expecting. Sigurd Bagge is an enigmatic presence, and Allis, like a moth to a flame, finds she is simultaneously drawn to him and alert to his disquieting moods. Lydia Wilson is the reader. Agnes Ravatn is a novelist and columnist and has published several collections of essays. The Bird Tribunal has won two awards in Norway, the NRK P2 Listener's Novel Prize and the Youth Critic's Award, and it has also been adapted for the stage. Rosie Hedger is the translator of The Bird Tribunal, and has lived and worked in Scandinavia.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rebecka

    This is just so wonderfully written that I don't really know what to say to get the message across. I have completely fallen in love with nynorsk lately due to the wonderful books I've been reading, but this one really drove the point home. The story in Fugletribunalet is not very spectacular. It's as old as can be. It's Jane Eyre meets... whatever (ideas?), in a modern day, rural Norwegian setting. Anyone who has ever traveled outside the big (heh) cities of Norway knows that this country is the This is just so wonderfully written that I don't really know what to say to get the message across. I have completely fallen in love with nynorsk lately due to the wonderful books I've been reading, but this one really drove the point home. The story in Fugletribunalet is not very spectacular. It's as old as can be. It's Jane Eyre meets... whatever (ideas?), in a modern day, rural Norwegian setting. Anyone who has ever traveled outside the big (heh) cities of Norway knows that this country is the perfect setting for gloomy literature on loneliness. There are so, so many cut-off places, hidden valleys, hard-to-access corners where people have randomly built a huge house. And perhaps 1% of the country is flat, so moving around can be difficult. It's ideal for hiding. Allis is hiding. She is an actual modern day, publicly scandalized woman who just can't handle what happened to her, and has therefore fled. She finds a position cooking for an odd man and caring for his garden while his wife is away. He's mysterious and gloomy, does not want her to eat in his presence, their eyes never meet, his mood changes abruptly and he hardly ever talks to her. She tries to fit in, be useful, as her curiosity grows. That's it. That reads like something out of a romance novel. It is the plot of a romance novel, and it works beautifully. (Remember that this is Scandinavia, however. A typical romance novel would never win any award here, and this one just got "Novel of the Year" in Norway. I think.) And how do you know that this works beautifully, that this is brilliant and not just another one of those stories, besides from the award and so on? Well, take a look at the cover for the Norwegian edition. There's not a beach, woman or straw hat in sight. There are two rather un-feminine birds, and that's it. It's really quite spectacular. This book was not marketed for a female-only audience! And with good reason. It's simply a very, very good book, with some of the best writing I've seen in Scandinavia. I read more slowly in nynorsk than bokmål, but this book took me even longer to read than usual because I also had to put the book down in my lap after almost every page to contemplate something on it or just marvel at how the author just wrote the perfect line. Again. The rest of my views are best hidden behind a spoiler. (view spoiler)[ Now, I do wish that certain things could have been different. I love the ending, but for a while there, I was a bit worried. I thought the plot would evolve a little differently, and I'm not a fan of the fade-to-black-only (M/M ruined me). There's this one perfect, perfect scene, where Bagge all of a sudden asks Allis to show herself, he wants to look at her. So she, confused and eager to please, because this man is impossible to understand, stupidly takes her shirt off. He leans in and whispers "whore" in her ear. And just leaves. That had sooooo much potential. Sadly, I felt that scene didn't get the repercussions it could have gotten. (hide spoiler)]

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I have to start with saying how much I love the cover for this book. It just shouts at you that there is going to be something dark and sinister within the pages of the novel and there certainly was. This was a relatively short read and I read it in two sittings over two evenings. Allis and Sigurd are basically the only characters in this story. There are only fleeting moments of any mention of any other human beings when Allis goes shopping to stock up on much needed food items. With it basically I have to start with saying how much I love the cover for this book. It just shouts at you that there is going to be something dark and sinister within the pages of the novel and there certainly was. This was a relatively short read and I read it in two sittings over two evenings. Allis and Sigurd are basically the only characters in this story. There are only fleeting moments of any mention of any other human beings when Allis goes shopping to stock up on much needed food items. With it basically only featuring two characters, I started to slightly worry whether it would hold my interest but I didn’t need to worry as it did. Nearly all the story is set in and around Sigurd’s house which is in a secluded spot. You certainly get the sense of how cut off these two people are. The actual setting sounded so idyllic yet I couldn’t help but have my doubts about being so cut off from the rest of civilisation. It is very obvious from the start that these two people that seem to have drifted together have something they are hiding. Allis seems to be running away from something and even though at times she feels frightened around Sigurd, she is also very intrigued and there is something about him that she seems to be drawn to and attracted to. Sigurd, again is obviously hiding something from Allis. He has locked himself away from the world and just seems to be going through the motions of living. There is a foreboding sense of danger through out this book. You just know that what ever secrets these two are hiding it is going to have a major impact. It felt like Christmas Eve when you are wishing for time to pass quickly for the big day to arrive. I was dying to know what they were hiding and how it was all going to end and it certainly got the adrenaline flowing. This is without a doubt a dark and sinister read. It is shrouded with mystery and suspense and had me well and truly gripped. A highly enjoyable read. My thanks to Karen at Orenda for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy Megraw

    Originally posted at Crime Fiction Lover Allis Hagtorn is not quite sure what to expect when she shows up to work at a house on the edge of the isolated Norwegian fjords. She’s answering an ad for a live-in caregiver for the taciturn man who lives there. Sigurd Bagge is a man of few words so she’s left to wonder what is wrong with her obviously well-built new employer. Why does he needs care and just where is his wife? Her main motive in taking the job was to escape her old life, which we hear mo Originally posted at Crime Fiction Lover Allis Hagtorn is not quite sure what to expect when she shows up to work at a house on the edge of the isolated Norwegian fjords. She’s answering an ad for a live-in caregiver for the taciturn man who lives there. Sigurd Bagge is a man of few words so she’s left to wonder what is wrong with her obviously well-built new employer. Why does he needs care and just where is his wife? Her main motive in taking the job was to escape her old life, which we hear more about as the story progresses. Although she’s acutely self-conscious, she strives to impress him with her gardening and cooking prowess while furtively glancing at his handsome features. What sounds like a set-up for a light-hearted rom-com, however, is anything but. The disarming opening belies a deep psychological thriller characterised early on by a mounting sense of dread. Allis is cut off from the outside world, willingly on one hand because she’s running from her past and a sense of failure. But on the other, she seeks information about Bagge and his wife, but her sole source is cryptic and sneering remarks made by the creepy old grocer in the remote country store she bikes to. Seeking solace in nature after one of Bagge’s many moods swings, Allis encounters a disturbing scene in the forest – a burnt clearing and charred nails like some grim fairy circle. The discovery marks the beginning of a series of revelations that deepens the sense of unease. The first-person narrative provides tension as we are not sure if we can trust Allis’ limited perspective. Her enduring crush on Bagge, about whom she knows next to nothing, coupled with torment about her own self-worth lends a claustrophobic feel to the minimalist setting. The remote rural house has a Gothic ambiance that recalls the romance of Jane Eyre and the seething mystery of Rebecca. Latent mystery abounds in the house and its environs. Right from the start you are tantalised by a certain locked room. And then there’s the hidden cookbook belonging to the real elephant in the room, the missing wife. And outside, malevolent gulls and dead tits portend that Allis’ fledgling romance may not be so healthy as she wished. Although Bagge is a nagging mystery, Allis rolls up her sleeves, determined to create order in the house, garden and her own life. She tries to tame her brooding Rochester, who only emerges from his chambers for meals. In the forced intimacy of their isolation a clumsy relationship starts to blossom, but only after Alli shares with Bagge a sad and lovely story derived from Norse mythology, the death of Balder. The act of storytelling breaks the ice between them, but when it’s his turn to tell his story, it is a deeply disturbing and hallucinatory vision, the titular bird tribunal. The real breakthrough in their relationship comes when she cooks a meal from his wife’s cookbook, luring him out of his lair to begin a relationship and the validation she so craves. Rich with imagery and symbolism, Ravatn’s prose leaves out punctuation in character dialogues. This device works very well for our nervous narrator, who because she lacks self-confidence, neurotically rehearses speech before delivering it, and we realise it’s an actual utterance only after Bagge responds. As Bagge alternately accepts, rejects, and scares the hell out of her, he also pleads for forgiveness and begins to reveals all of his secrets: the story of his wife Nor, a lunar eclipse, and finally, the secret of what lies hidden in the boathouse. With each revelation, Ravatn harnesses the darker aspect of nature, which serves her vivid prose as a narrative agent of mystery, violence and the supernatural. In the tradition of Nordic noir, nature itself is a main character in The Bird Tribunal, where ordinary objects are ominous ciphers, and even the dazzling beauty of the fjords oozes with darkness and latent murder. Even if you think you’ve solved the core mystery, Allis’ fear and fascination will keep you turning the pages until the dramatic, harrowing end. Ravatn’s masterful prose and Rosie Hedger’s careful and clear translation makes for absolutely captivating reading. The Bird Tribunal is suffused with dark imagery from the ancient Eddas, creating a foreboding atmosphere that gets under the skin and stays there. Like a lunar eclipse, each revelation is another form of darkness.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    This reminded me quite a lot of a modern, Norwegian Rebecca (a sentence I never thought I would write), and it's definitely worth checking out if you enjoy psychological thrillers or want to read a book set in Norway. The protagonist, Allis, accepts a job working as a gardener and housekeeper for a man who lives on a remote fjord, and the changing landscape and seasons play a large role in the atmosphere of the book. For most of the book, it's just Allis, her employer, and nature. There's a lot o This reminded me quite a lot of a modern, Norwegian Rebecca (a sentence I never thought I would write), and it's definitely worth checking out if you enjoy psychological thrillers or want to read a book set in Norway. The protagonist, Allis, accepts a job working as a gardener and housekeeper for a man who lives on a remote fjord, and the changing landscape and seasons play a large role in the atmosphere of the book. For most of the book, it's just Allis, her employer, and nature. There's a lot of symbolism and power to the writing, particularly Allis's recounting of the story of Balder compared with Bagge's story of the bird tribunal, and (view spoiler)[the boat that Bagge builds the entire time that Allis is working for him. He knows she's not his wife - but does he? (hide spoiler)] . And it's very Norwegian in the best way. When Allis originally arrives at the house, Bagge demands the same breakfast every morning: two hardboiled eggs, pickled fish, and rye bread. I liked this quite a lot and would automatically pick up anything else by Agnes Ravatn, but I think my own enjoyment was hampered a bit by the lack of quotation marks in the text and the half bottle of rosé I consumed while reading. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Hall

    The Bird Tribunal is an astonishing achievement, both an exhilarating literary psychological thriller and a profound portrait of the obsessive love affair between two damaged souls seeking redemption. Allis Hagtorn is running from a marriage and career destroyed by her infidelity and portrayed as the harlot who has slept her way to a position in front of the television cameras. Seeking voluntary exile she can no longer live a life open to the contempt and judgement of every viewer. Ashamed of he The Bird Tribunal is an astonishing achievement, both an exhilarating literary psychological thriller and a profound portrait of the obsessive love affair between two damaged souls seeking redemption. Allis Hagtorn is running from a marriage and career destroyed by her infidelity and portrayed as the harlot who has slept her way to a position in front of the television cameras. Seeking voluntary exile she can no longer live a life open to the contempt and judgement of every viewer. Ashamed of her past, Allis seeks salvation, eschewing the complications of modern life and the inevitable divorce which awaits and immersing herself in the basic toil that running a household and working the land entails. At the age of thirty-two her notion may be rather naive but undoubtedly her confusion at what she discovers at her destination complicates matters further. In place of the elderly gentleman Allis expected to nurse is a robust and aloof man of forty-four-years old. Sigurd Bagge appears at times arrogant and indifferent to the woman who has come to share his home as he awaits the arrival of his wife, an event that whose date is never specified. Allis is unprepared for what she is confronted by and her growing desire and dependency of Bagge's approval . At the mercy of the whims of his temperament, never sure how to respond to his sensitivities, the relationship between the pair developing into a something akin to coercive control with Allis responding like a puppet to the strings Bagge chooses to pull. That Bagge remains entirely devoid of interest in Allis or indeed the running of the households leaves Allis endlessly engaged in a furious internal dialogue, and daring to pique his interest. Feeling inferior the closer she is scrutinised, Allis determines to break his icy exterior. As the power struggle between the Allis and Bagge waivers, Agnes Ravatn holds readers in the thrall of their every action, barely daring to take a breathe as an inevitable destructive outcome plays out. Ravatn measures her words superbly to ensure The Bird Tribunal bristles with tension from start to finish yet never boils over until the final heart-stopping conclusion. Her narrative control is perfected to ensure readers are never sure of where the upper hand lies in the relationship in a manner that has overtones of Blood Wedding by Pierre Lemaitre. Not only is this a fine achievement, it is a fascinating portrayal of the balance of power in a hugely interdependent relationship where such significance is read into everyday behaviour. It is the subtle changes and fluctuations in this intense relationship over the passing days that wreaks havoc with readers emotions, never certain of the outcome that Agnes Ravatn holds firmly in her grasp until the final pages. Narrated by Allis, her honesty is recognising her own faults and frailties is beautifully observed. When there is little sign of Bagge either recognising Allis from her media profile or falling under the spell she has effortlessly cast over the men up until now, she acknowledges her ego taking a knock. Her response is to up the ante as an ambivalent Bagge proves a challenge. But just who is behaving the most manipulatively is never as assessment that Agnes Ravatn chooses to make. Whether Bagge's deliberate remoteness is simply a method of keeping Allis under his spell remains uncertain, and whether Allis wilfully sets out to entice someone who speaks of the expected return of his wife is also shrouded in mystery. Regardless, when two strong personalities choose to place such weight on the others behaviour the dangers are inherent and the result is a zero sum game. As each new flurry of anger is drawn from Bagge and his frailties furthers exposed, Allis appears to respond by increasing her desire to take care of a man who so openly bears the scars of a damaged life. As the power seesaws between the two, the knowledge that Bagge's strength and anger can rise to the surface in a split second also makes him an irresistible object of attraction, the element of danger proving a lure to Allis. The enormity of The Bird Tribunal is that I turned the final pages I was never sure of how Ravatn meant this novel to be interpreted or whether she ever wished that to be set in stone. Whether there were ulterior motives right from the start on the part of either Allis or Sigurd Bagge is uncertain and indeed whether the relationship would have flourished after the lustre of an obsessive fixation revealed the simplicity and ordinariness of Bagge's life is unknown. However individual readers choose to interpret this captivating relationship, what cannot be argued is just how scintillating Allis Hagtorn and Sigurd Bagge prove to be as they first take this measure of each other, the icy remoteness and capricious temperament of Bagge eventually giving way to an obsessive love affair with the power to destroy. The Bird Tribunal effortlessly entrances, with credible suspense delivered through the intensity of emotions between Allis and Bagge. Tension is heightened throughout by Bagge's reluctance to make eye contact and engage in conversation. The atmospheric location on a remote Norwegian fjord compliments this breathtaking story of a interdependent relationship with limited external influences wonderfully. Beautifully translated into English by Rosie Hedger, her appreciation for the text allows the story to flow seamlessly and allows the mesmerising appeal of seclusion of the Norwegian fjord to draw the plaudits. Simply exquisite, I look forward to hearing more from Agnes Ravatn.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Fictionophile

    All of my reviews can be found on my blog: Fictionophile Allis Hagtorn has done something of which she is profoundly ashamed. She seeks anonymity and a refuge where she can come to terms with her behavior and her future. She finds employment in a remote house on a Norwegian fjord. Here she will be a housekeeper/cook/gardener to Sigurd Bagge, the solitary man who calls this house home. Her previous employment as a television presenter has not prepared her for the hard physical labor she is expected All of my reviews can be found on my blog: Fictionophile Allis Hagtorn has done something of which she is profoundly ashamed. She seeks anonymity and a refuge where she can come to terms with her behavior and her future. She finds employment in a remote house on a Norwegian fjord. Here she will be a housekeeper/cook/gardener to Sigurd Bagge, the solitary man who calls this house home. Her previous employment as a television presenter has not prepared her for the hard physical labor she is expected to perform for Sigurd Bagge – or for the emotional minefield his presence seems to generate. He is surly, taciturn, moody, and secretive. He expects her to eat alone, after he has finished. There are locked rooms in the house which she is not to enter. He says the garden was once his wife’s domain, now she is gone (we know not where) and it has fallen into an overgrown chaos. “Something wasn’t right about this place” There is no car. Allis is expected to cycle in to the nearest shop to get the provisions she needs for his meals. There is no music, no television, no internet. As the frigid spring turns to summer on the fjord, Allis and Bagge remain remote from each other – even though they do occasionally share a glass of wine from the cottage’s seemingly endless supply in the cellar. They seem incapable of looking each other in the eye. They are both married with absent spouses. The predictable duties over several weeks makes Allis feel transformed. She feels as though she has shed her old life like a snake sheds its skin. The hard manual work seems to have been her salvation. “…difficult circumstances were good starting points for life changes, great or small.” They both harbor secrets that seem to weigh upon them so much that they are barely able to stand. The house, in this isolated and beautiful spot, is fraught with tension. “I was too happy to cry and too sad to smile. I didn’t know what it was, I longed to feel light.” At times Allis is afraid of Sigurd. At other times he makes her feel safe… It has been a long time since she has spoken to her parents or anyone from her former life. She feels isolated – but she cannot imagine being anywhere else, doing anything else. To say this novel is atmospheric would be an understatement. At times the house is so quiet that you can imagine Allis hearing her own heartbeat above all else. The characterization is wonderful. The reader learns just enough about the two protagonists to want to know more – thus maintaining a delicious tension and at the same time, a feeling of foreboding. When the meaning behind the title and the cover art are divulged, the reader is rendered speechless. A novel of guilt, atonement, and what the lack of trust can do to a relationship. A psychological thriller? Yes. A crime thriller? You be the judge. I think “The bird tribunal” will be on my ‘best of 2017’ list. Highly recommended! Thanks to Orenda Books for providing me with a complimentary digital copy of this book in consideration of my review.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Emma

    The Bird Tribunal is written by Agnes Ravatn, translated from it’s original Norwegian by Rosie Hedger and is published by the inimitable Orenda Books. I have to say, I have never read a book quite like this before. Strangely unsettling but a completely riveting read! Allis Hagtorn is running away. Something happened which has made her ‘up sticks’ and leave everything she knows behind, including her husband and her influential job. The only way forward for Allis is to withdraw from everyday life a The Bird Tribunal is written by Agnes Ravatn, translated from it’s original Norwegian by Rosie Hedger and is published by the inimitable Orenda Books. I have to say, I have never read a book quite like this before. Strangely unsettling but a completely riveting read! Allis Hagtorn is running away. Something happened which has made her ‘up sticks’ and leave everything she knows behind, including her husband and her influential job. The only way forward for Allis is to withdraw from everyday life as much as she can, submitting herself to voluntary exile. Sigurd Bagge offers her a new job as his housekeeper and gardener, whilst his wife is away. The job suits Allis down to the ground as Bagge’s home is remote and Bagge himself is secretive and uncommunicative. But what secrets is Allis hiding? And is she the only one…? I found this a gripping read. I had a strong feeling of impending doom from early on which stayed with me and grew stronger as I moved through the book. It’s certainly an unsettling read and I found it oddly uncomfortable in places (not the subject matter so much as the feeling that I was intruding on the characters most private moments). That certainly didn’t put me off though! It’s a fairly quick read and so easy to devour in the space of a few hours. I thoroughly enjoyed it! Allis’ neediness towards Bagge added to that uncomfortable feeling at times. There were several points when I wanted her to walk away from the house and never look back. I was torn in two; wanting her to leave but knowing there was something big on the way. That delicious build up of friction between the two characters was so utterly compelling! Not forgetting of course, that fabulous, unexpected ending. Would I recommend this book? I would, especially if you’re looking for a character driven, somewhat intoxicating, slow-build of a read to a surprising, yet stunning conclusion. Packed full of secrets and shed loads of atmosphere. It’s a great read! Four and a half stars out of five. Many thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for providing me with a copy of The Bird Tribunal in exchange for an honest review.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Renee (itsbooktalk)

    Full review on my blog at itsbooktalk.com Continuing my current reading pattern of eye catching black, gray and red covers is The Bird Tribunal. A disturbingly eerie story of two strangers brought together under suspicious circumstances. When the story begins we are introduced to Allis as she arrives at the remote, isolated home of Sigurd Bagge, her new employer. She seems to have abruptly left behind her previous life to take the job as Bagge's gardener and housekeeper. Many questions surround A Full review on my blog at itsbooktalk.com Continuing my current reading pattern of eye catching black, gray and red covers is The Bird Tribunal. A disturbingly eerie story of two strangers brought together under suspicious circumstances. When the story begins we are introduced to Allis as she arrives at the remote, isolated home of Sigurd Bagge, her new employer. She seems to have abruptly left behind her previous life to take the job as Bagge's gardener and housekeeper. Many questions surround Allis...but two of the biggest are what is she running from and why?...is she mentally unstable or just a little quirky? I have to say, I found Allis to be surprisingly witty and sarcastic at times and at other times I thought she definitely had a screw loose. As for Bagge, he appears to be in hiding but from what? And why? We are led to believe that he needs Allis only temporarily until his wife returns; however , he never really says where she went or when she'll return. Combine the secrets between these two with their escalating attraction to each other, add in the isolated, confining setting and you've got a page-turning novel that begs the questions...What is going on with these two and how will it all end?

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