Review of The Boy At The Door by Alex Dahl

Published by House of Zeus Ltd in 2018     ISBN: 978-1786-6992- 44 (Paper back)

Cecilia is Norwegian, lives a charmed life with her handsome, dutiful husband Johan, and their two young gorgeous daughters in the picturesque town of Sandefjord. Chic clothes, a stylish home and champagne parties with women chums define her until her perfect yet vacuous existence implodes when Tobias, a scared, friendless eight year old comes to stay. Narrated in the first person, this psychological thriller begins promisingly as dark and tautly woven but it falters and becomes uneven even though it contains instances of page turning suspense. The reader is whisked from one narrator’s perspective to another’s, the tales ultimately slotting together neatly. Secrets, lies and deceitfulness stalk the twists and turns. Cecilia’s past rears its head threatening to tear her cherished family apart and she knows her demons will bring her fortress crashing down unless she takes drastic action so she must learn fast.    Sex, bad behaviour, drugs and murder collide on a path that takes the reader on a disturbing, if predictable, journey.

Some readers may find that the author could have controlled the unfolding of the story more convincingly had she told rather than showed, did not over-labour the points and breathed more life into the dialogue.  The characterisation  is skillful, with  Cecilia reviewing  her constantly shifting strategies, some foolish, some wily. Her relationship with Tobias deepens for he is a child who has witnessed and experienced   gruesome things to which no child should ever be exposed.  Despite its shortcomings, this debut’s ending does not disappoint.

Reviewer: Serena Fairfax

Leave a Reply