book reviews · Bookish

The Boy at the Door by Alex Dahl (Review)

I’m pleased to be bringing you a book review as part of the #LoveBooksGroupTours for The Boy at the Door by Alex Dahl. Available now on Kindle, in Hardback and Paperback editions.

The Boy at the Door is a psychological thriller based in Norway and goes between the perspective of Cecilia and Tobias. Cecilia, the main character, is married to Johan and has two daughters. She initially appears to be a snobby, obnoxious and entitled woman, but it turns out that there is way more to her than you’d think, and frankly, the blurb doesn’t do the tale justice.

Tobias is a young boy who met Cecilia when he was at the same swimming lessons as her daughter, and when nobody came to pick him up after his lesson.

This book was a strange read for me, although an enjoyable one. I felt a few parts dragged a little, but this negative point was far outweighed by the excellent way Dahl built up the characters and their world and the parts that dragged were a part of that. Can’t have it both ways! So while I wanted to get on with the “meat” of the story, I was happy to really get to know the characters. The writing style was different to what’s typical of the genre and may not appeal to people who dislike a direct sort of tone and prefer a more nuanced style of writing.

Cecilia is not a good person. She’s also clearly got some mental issues. She makes you mad but also evokes sympathy from the reader too. She’s hard to be angry at even though she’s clearly quite regularly in the wrong. Tobias is written so well that you will want to just scoop him up and soothe him at times. The other characters mentioned are easy to visualise – one in particular, Annika, have a very firm and significant presence through the book and her characters story is woven through and will give you a dose of “feelings” too.

The story hits you with a significant event fairly early on and from there, it’s a wild ride. I guessed a small portion of the outcome but there were a bunch of twists that were entirely unexpected. Cecilia is a master at deception. So much so, she manages even to convince the reader with her lies.

We get to the truth in the very end, and I found myself rooting for Cecilia, despite all that she had done. I wanted the ending to be happy, but instead, the ending felt unfinished and left me with so many questions. One significant question – What about Tobias? It felt a little like a see-saw. Up and down and up and down but then the other person gets off and you go down with a massive thump and you’re a bit stunned. It ended with a bang but personally, I find these types of endings a little unfulfilling – I’m bad at imagination, even though you can likely fill in the gaps yourself. This is the only thing about the book that bothered me personally. That being said, it didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the book as a whole and I would recommend it to anyone who likes thrillers that are a little bit different.

About the Book

On a rainy October evening, Cecilia Wilborg – loving wife, devoted mother, tennis club regular – is waiting for her kids to finish their swimming lesson. It’s been a long day. She can almost taste the crisp, cold glass of Chablis she’ll pour for herself once the girls are tucked up in bed.

But what Cecilia doesn’t know, is that this is the last time life will feel normal. Tonight she’ll be asked to drop a little boy home, a simple favour that will threaten to expose her deepest, darkest secret…

About the Author

Alex Dahl was born in Oslo, Norway, and is half American, half Norwegian, fully Francophile, and London resident.

Alex is the author of The Boy at the Door, published world-wide in 2018.

She holds an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University, as well as an MSc in Business Management. Alex loves to travel and has previously lived in Moscow, Paris, Stuttgart, Sandefjord, Switzerland and Bath.

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