Set against the icy backdrop of Norway, The Last Boat Home by Dea Brovig tells the story of 16-year-old Else and the secret she keeps for 30 years.
This is the author’s first debut and it’ll be interesting to see where she goes to from here. Dea Brovig writes evocatively and with the kind of insight into her characters that makes them seem not only relatable, but intimately familiar. We’ve all known women like her mom Dagny, who avoid conflict at all costs, as well as her teenage boyfriend Lars, whose life goals as a young man are focused on merely having a good time.
The imagery in the story enhances the storytelling with the use of storms and snowfall to foreshadow certain events. It gives the entire rhetoric an almost eerie, horror story-like atmosphere, which sets the stage for the events that follow.
I thoroughly enjoyed the use of time as a storytelling technique as the book jumps between the present – with Else, her daughter Marianne and granddaughter Liv – juxtaposed with the past, helping us to decipher what exactly happened back then and who Marianne’s father really is. The book’s entire premise is based upon this question, to which the answer is only revealed well towards the end, although keen readers will probably hazard a guess and find that although they may think they know – they really, really don’t…
It’s a chilling tale with an eclectic mix of characters who populate this small fishing town. Intriguing and, at times, horrifying – it’s a brilliant read, although not an easy one. Best read with a loved one nearby or at least a cup of tea.