Following on from the theme of my previous review, where the main characters were insidiously despicable … I present you with Cecelia Wilborg, who possesses not one redeeming quality! Oh, she looks quite perfect on the outside: beautiful to look at, always immaculate, a magnificent home, handsome, successful husband who adores her, two pretty daughters … but she’s rotten to the core.
It’s all about presenting the flawless facade in the affluent Norwegian suburb of Sandefjord where Cecelia lives. One wouldn’t want to give people something to gossip about.
One rainy evening when she’s heading home from the community centre after her daughter’s swimming lesson, thinking only of the warmth and comfort of the evening ahead, Cecelia is asked to drop off Tobias, a forlorn little boy whose parent hasn’t arrived to fetch him. Being as self-absorbed as she is, this certainly isn’t on her agenda, but she realises how it will look if she refuses, so she agrees to help out. It’s a mistake she’ll wish over and over again that she hadn’t made.
What follows is a story so treacherous and so absorbing that it makes for a gripping page-turner. As Cecelia story unfolds, so does the tale of Annika Lucasson, a junkie whose desolate life is somehow intertwined with both Cecelia’s and Tobias’s. As frustrated as I was with Annika and her constant inability to right herself, I found myself empathising with her as her character was so much more authentic than the self-centered Cecelia who I didn’t have an iota of feeling for. Inevitably, we also get to know Tobias’s version of things, and how he interprets everything. The insightful, blatantly honest narration of a seven-year-old is gut-wrenching.
Dahl writes her characters with depth, and her descriptions are detailed and comprehensive enough that the reader gets the feeling that they’re actually right there experiencing every scenario, especially the uncomfortable (some are truly excruciating) ones. She has spared nothing in creating Cecelia, and I feel she may even have had a bit of fun crafting someone so very horrible who will say and do whatever it takes to protect herself, while still trying to maintain that perfect veneer.
4 glossy stars for this one. It’s Nordic Noir of exceedingly excellent quality and I feel that Cecelia Wilborg would certainly approve!
About the Author:
Half-American, half-Norwegian, Alex Dahl was born in Oslo. She graduated with a B.A. in Russian and German linguistics with international studies and went on to complete an M.A. in creative writing at Bath Spa University, followed by an M.S. in business management at Bath University. Alex has published short stories in the U.K. and the U.S. She is a serious Francophile and currently lives in both London and Sandefjord. The Boy at the Door is her first novel.
PRAISE FOR THE BOY AT THE DOOR:
“Unsettling, layered, bold, unpredictable, dark. EXCELLENT.” Will Dean, author of Dark Pines
“Remarkable… Dahl is able to ring satisfying changes on the familiar ingredients, and her heroine Cecilia, in particular, is one of the most distinctive that readers will have encountered in recent years.” Crime Time
“Stunning… an extraordinary plot; intricate and twisted with dark secrets emerging at every turn. An engaging mystery with an ending you won’t see coming.” Alexandra Burt
“Heartbreaking and HEAD-SPINNING.” Mary Torjussen, author of Gone Without a Trace
Buy Link: https://amzn.to/2CltDF0
Thank you to Kelly Lacy of Love Books Group.
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