‘The Seven Doors’ is the latest book by Agnes Ravtn.
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.
It’s been a while since I’ve read a Nordic Noir so I was looking forward to reading ‘The Seven Doors’.
The story is seen through the narrative of Literary professor Nina who believes that English professors should be capable of investigating crimes due to their knowledge of myths and folklores and this sets up the premise of the story. Nina finds herself obsessing over the disappearance of Mari Neilson who was the former tenant in an apartment that she and her husband Mads had. She was unaware of the woman being a tenant in the house until she and her daughter visited it as her daughter Ingeberg was wanting to move in ahead of her second pregnancy.
The story then flows with Nina doing her own investigative work into the disappearance, retracing Mari’s last steps and her relationships with her parents as well as her ex husband Nicolas Bull, who’s returned to the Bergen area after being gone for years. Although we only meet Mari once in a story for a brief introduction, Agnes creates a full image of the woman with stories from her parents and ex husband all giving an insight into the woman.
The story is cleverly crafted with references to Nordic folk lore which is where the title of the book comes from. A captain called Bluebeard’s Castle who had 7 doors in his house and forbid his wife from looking behind them. It’s a tale of revenge, loss and jealousy and it’s essentially what this book is also about.
The story is extremely atmospheric and the author includes vivid descriptions of the town, the food and the festive traditions. The descriptions of the snow covered streets to the unsettling folklores made for fascinating reading. The story is primarily about the complexities of relationships, Nina has a strained relationship with her often outspoken and robust daughter Ingeberg and struggles to connect with her granddaughter who is always pushing her away and Mads is often working and leaving Nina to her own thoughts.
This book was a fascinating to read, but the author does not include speech marks so it takes a while to get used too but after a few pages, you don’t notice it.
Atmospheric and suspenseful with tension simmering throughout, ‘The Seven Doors’ was originally a Nordic book that has been translated by Rosie Hedger and for the English market.
‘The Seven Doors’ is a twisted story with drama and unreliable characters that made for gripping reading.
You can buy ‘The Seven Doors’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.