Book Review: The Bird Tribunal by Agnes Ravatn


A mesmerising, gripping, one-sitting read! The pages of this book place you under their spell, Ravatn writes in such a powerful way, everything around you fades and finishing this book is all that matters.

From the back cover:

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:

Powerful writing is needed when a book has only two characters (three if you included the shop-keeper, who makes a sparse appearance), and powerful writing is just what Ravatn delivers. The Bird Tribunal tells the memorising story of Allis Hagtorn and Sigurd Bagge. Allis, running from the mistakes of her past, takes up residence with Bagge, employed as his caretaker, she expected to tend to the garden and undertake housekeeping duties. What she didn’t expect, and as the reader, what I didn’t expect, was the whirlwind of emotions that followed.

I don’t want to go into too much detail regarding the plot for fear of spoilers, at 185 pages, this book can be read in one-sitting. These 185 pages are packed with tension, with its eerie opening, you are immediately drawn into this story. As you are further immersed into the lives of Allis and Bagge, you witness the changing nature of their relationship – love, secrets, lies, manipulation, guilt and the need to atone – you’re never really sure where the story is going but it takes you somewhere dark, somewhere beautiful and somewhere you won’t forget.

I’m struggling to find the words to describe how splendidly haunting this book is, words such as ‘transfixed’ and ‘compelling’ come to mind. As the reader, you are so deeply invested in this story, almost like Ravatn has hypnotised you, and your only action is to read on. The Bird Tribunal is a devastatingly beautiful read unlike no other. Ravatn wrote this book with purpose, a psychological thriller that truly captivates you, all building towards an ending that will claim a little piece of your mind for itself – superb and unforgettable.

Rosie Hedger did an excellent job translating this book, with nothing lost in translation, this is Norwegian crime fiction at its finest.

*My thanks to Karen at Orenda Books for providing me with a copy of this book*

This title is available to buy now from: Amazon UK

9 thoughts on “Book Review: The Bird Tribunal by Agnes Ravatn

  1. Your review is spot on without giving anything way, great job! I agree that there’s something about her ability to draw the reader in to a small world where it’s just the 2 of them and yet we have to keep reading to find out what’s really going on. I think this is a true psychological thriller in a sea of ones that claim to be but fall short

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely, this book stands out in a crowd. I don’t think (or can’t remember 🙈) reading a book with basically only 2 characters and it having such an effect on me. I think it was just the right length too for the kind of read it is.

      Liked by 1 person

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