Cover Image: The Boy at the Door

The Boy at the Door

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

This was book had me from the start! There were so many wow moments in this book and I was glued from the minute I picked it up til I out it down when finished.

I don't feel any review I do will do this book justice, if you love a sit on the end of your chair read and to be kept guessing throughout then you won't be disappointed. The old saying 'looks are deceiving' is a common thread throughout this book. You start by meeting the seemingly perfect Cecilia Wilborg and her perfect family, from the beginning you get a real sense of privilege. However all that changes because of a small boy and Cecilia agreeing to do a good deed. You will not regret reading this book.
Was this review helpful?
I would firstly like to thank Netgalley and the publishers for allowing me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review. 

A truly fantastic read that I loved the whole way through, up until that very last chapter. While I adored the ending in regards to Tobias, Cecilia's ending felt somewhat unconcluded somehow?? 
Anyway, other then the ending, the whole read was a page-turner from start to finish. I instantly felt so much empathy for Tobias and my heart broke as I read what the poor boy had to endure, I found myself desperately wishing for a happy ending! 
Alongside of Tobias, the majority of the characters were excellently written, adding to the very gripping story that kept me right at the edge of my seat. And with that very unpredictable reveal?? A must read book in my opinion. Gonna start this author's latest read immediately!
Was this review helpful?
Cecilia & Johan live in idyllic Sandefjord in Norway with their 2 beautiful daughters. They seem to have the perfect life. When picking up her daughter from the swimming pool she notices,that someone’s son has not being picked up and she ends up having to drive him home. The house he is supposed to live in has been abandoned so he ends up staying the night at her house.

This is a great story that kept me gripped throughout. Shows what happens when you tell a lie and then that little lie escalates,so in the end you can’t fathom what the real truth is. As the saying goes “Oh what tangled web we weave when we practise to deceive”

Loved the twists and turns in this book and how Cecelia’s calm facade crumbles into a million pieces. I didn’t predict the ending and it kept me guessing till the last page.

A must read book that will keep you turning the pages desperate to find out the truth.

Thank you to Netgalley for my copy in exchange for a review.
Was this review helpful?
Plot: When Cecelia is the last mother to leave the pool after swimming lessons with her daughters, she doesn’t imagine that she’ll be going home with another child in tow. No one has come to collect Tobias, so she gathers him into her car to drop him off at his home, only to find an empty abandoned house. All she can do is take him home with her and try to figure out what’s going on, but it turns out to be not quite so simple as it throws up memories and figures from her past as well as creating more questions than answers.

My thoughts: Another good twisty thriller that threw me a couple of times! I really loved the setting of this in normal everyday suburban Norway that was cold and atmospheric. Cecelia is an interesting character, constantly worried about appearances and how the rest of the town sees her, living the “perfect life”, but in reality, hiding behind it all. The dips in and out of Tobias’ former life were pretty harrowing at times, but really fleshed out and built the story well, making it a clever, multi-layered story.
I’ve seen this book described as “Nordic Noir”, and I’d agree with that – it was dim, but not too dark; saddening, but not completely distressing; and it had a good storyline. I really enjoyed this read.
Was this review helpful?
This book was compelling and different and it really kept me hooked from the very first page. I really enjoyed reading a thriller based in another country and the little boy's character added a different aspect to the story,  Some bits didn't do it for me, though – the plot seemed incoherent at times but all in all it was a good  thriller that kept me reading through the chapters.
Was this review helpful?
Great storyline with good strong characters.  Very well written.  I would recommend this book to anyone.
Was this review helpful?
This book had so many twists and turns I actually don't know where to start.  It was a great ride though!  At times I did find it a little difficult to follow which character was giving their account (the book was written with the characters swapping backwards and forwards, giving their account),  so at times I struggled to follow which character we were hearing from.

A great thriller with plenty of multilayered accounts.  A great page turner.
Was this review helpful?
This book had a very mysterious vibe to it. It was a really great read. Loved it!
Unbearable to read as so much cruelty yet compulsive to read.
Was this review helpful?
The concept of this book seemed fascinating and I was intrigued to see how Dahl would approach it. However, I found the unfolding of events implausible and I was just not convinced any woman, despite her possible links to the child, would be allowed to essentially abduct him in this way. Dahl's character portayals are certainly strong but, for me, not convincing enough to carry the plot.
Was this review helpful?
A great immersive read. Just a tiny bit slow at times for my liking, but I still thought it was great. I will definitely read more from this author
Was this review helpful?
Geez to be honest I dunno what to say about this book apart from my head is still spinning haha! What a cracker of a read this one is, Cecelia has it all and one day finds a boy abandoned at the swimming pool, or is he? She takes him home and this boy then goes on to turn her world upside down, you won’t see it coming and you won’t belive it when it does arrive! What a great book and one I’ll recommend to everyone I know! More please!!!
Was this review helpful?
Cecelia wanted everyone to see what a perfect life she had- a handsome husband, two beautiful daughters, a lovely home and looking good. Her aim in life was to make sure that everyone knew how perfect it was.

When her daughter takes a long time changing after swimming one evening and everyone else has gone apart from one small boy she can't think of a good excuse as to why she shouldn't give him a lift home. This is when her world starts to unravel. His address is deserted, Tobias reveals only his name. Caving into the pressure from her husband (& thoughts of what people would say if she didn't!) she agrees to foster him temporarily. 

I found this a difficult book to rate. I wanted to know what happened but I found Cecelia so obnoxious & although I can suspend belief quite well this required too much of a stretch. Thanks to Netgalley & the publisher for letting me read & review this book.
Was this review helpful?
EXCERPT: 'As you'll be aware, there are so many holes in your previous accounts that we are at a loss to establish what information is true and what isn't.' Ellefson pauses, and I nod again. 'This is now a formal investigation, and I am obliged to inform you that everything you say in this room will be recorded and subject to further investigation. Do you understand?'

'Yes,' I say, keeping my voice low and even. 

ABOUT THIS BOOK: This riveting psychological suspense debut by Alex Dahl asks the question, "how far would you go to hold on to what you have?"

Cecilia Wilborg has it all--a loving husband, two beautiful daughters, and a gorgeous home in an affluent Norwegian suburb. And she works hard to keep it all together. Too hard...

There is no room for mistakes in her life. Even taking home a little boy whose parents forgot to pick him up at the pool can put a crimp in Cecilia's carefully planned schedule. Especially when she arrives at the address she was given
and finds an empty, abandoned house...

There's nothing for Cecilia to do but to take the boy home with her, never realizing that soon his quiet presence and knowing eyes will trigger unwelcome memories from her past--and unravel her meticulously crafted life... ( synopsis)

MY THOUGHTS: I didn't much like this book when I began it, thought I was probably going to jettison it before I was too far into it. I didn't much care for the writing style, the multiple points of view where you had to figure out whose the point of view was, I didn't much care for the characters. But inexorably, all these things I didn't much care for melded together to form, not the insurmountable barrier to a good read that I was expecting, but a compelling story of a self-centred woman who consistently puts her own needs first, and the havoc she wreaks in everyone's lives, not least her own, as she tries to keep a secret from her past concealed. 

The story is centred around three main characters, Cecilia (what Cecilia wants, Cecilia gets) who micromanages her 'perfect' life, a drug addict named Anni, and Tobias, a young boy who is wrenched from the security of the only home he has ever known and used as a pawn in an adult game of greed. 

This is an intense read with dark undertones. It is not always entirely credible, but that was not enough to stop me reading. I read through the night last night, unable to put this down until I had turned the last page. I can't say I enjoyed the read. It is not a book to be enjoyed. I was captivated, and even now, some hours later, Cecilia still haunts me and I wonder what sort of future Tobias will have. 

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. (

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Head of Zeus via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Boy at the Door by Alex Dahl for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions. 

Please refer to my profile page or the 'about' page on for an explanation of my rating system. 

This review and others are also published on my blog
Was this review helpful?
Are you a fan of mysteries with dark and disturbing undertones and sinister, unlikeable characters that really get under your skin? Then this may be the perfect book for you! Dahl’s opening chapter immediately drew me in and set the tone for this addictive and yet disturbing novel which made me want to fling it away in horror, but at the same time read deep into the night to find out what would happen.

Cecilia Wilborg is one of Sandefjord’s “yummy mummies”, a mother to two young girls and wife to successful banker Johan, living an affluent life in this picturesque Norwegian town where appearance matters. With pristine homes, expensive cars, stylish clothes and au-pair girls to look after the more unsavoury aspects of child-rearing, the women of the town gather regularly to gossip and (whilst they won’t admit it) judge each other. Appearance is everything, and Cecilia has long learned to fit in and play the game. It was absolutely not part of her plan to be tasked with driving an abandoned boy home, whose mother has failed to pick him up from the pool after her daughter’s swimming class, but how could she refuse without looking mean and uncharitable? Very reluctantly, Cecilia agrees, not realising that her carefully constructed life will soon unravel as a result.

I have typed and erased parts of this review several times already, loathe to reveal any spoilers that may take away some of the shock value of this dark and evil tale. May I just say that my heart broke several times over for little Tobias, the abandoned boy the story centres around? There were a lot of surprises in store in this story, and most characters managed to shock me as the layers of carefully constructed lies were slowly being stripped away. As a lover of the bleakness of Scandinavian noir, I got exactly what I had bargained for!  I am a bit lost for words to be honest. At times I wanted to throw this book across the room in anger and disgust, alternated by a deep sense of sadness for all involved. This was not a happy story, but a very compelling one, which saw me flicking the pages furiously until the early morning hours, because I could not tear myself away.

For lovers of Scandinavian noir, The Boy at the Door is a must-read, and I think you will not be disappointed with this gripping, dark and intense tale. There are many triggers for the faint-of-heart and readers who do not enjoy dark stories with lots of dysfunctional characters, but for me this was a definite winner! I am looking forward to reading more from this author!
Was this review helpful?
This is a hard book to rate as Cecelia is not a likeable character but a very selfish one with no respect for others - what Cecelia wants, Cecelia gets! She is very privileged and will lie without guilt to cover herself. The other main female character, Anni, is also not likeable and condemns Cecelia for what she knows about her.
Nevertheless the book is a definite page turner, even though I felt the method used to help the whole story unfold was rather contrived with a copy of a diary.
My sympathies throughout are without doubt with poor Tobias, whose character is so well portrayed.
A good debut.
Many thanks to Netgalley/Alex Dahl/Head of Zeus for a digital copy of this title. All opinions expressed are my own.
Was this review helpful?
Book blurb...
What would you do for the perfect life? Would you lie? Would you steal? Would you kill?... 
Cecilia Wilborg has the perfect life. A handsome husband, two beautiful daughters and a large house in the picture-postcard town of Sandefjord. 
But then Tobias enters her life. He is a small, friendless eight-year-old. And he threatens to bring Cecilia's world crashing down.
A masterful psychological thriller debut, sure to delight fans of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train. 

My thoughts…
I love a GREAT debut novel because I know there will be another book on the way (hopefully!)
This novel left me thinking long after the last page.
It’s hard to put into words how I feel about the main character, Cecillia.  The author took my emotions on a bit of a rollercoaster ride. Other characters swept in, but I kept swinging back to caring about Cecilia. Such an interesting character and a fabulous plot. Very clever.
I loved The Boy at the Door.
Put this mystery on your to-be-read pile for 2018.
Was this review helpful?
This is an excellent story of family secrets and illustrates how lies will always come back to haunt. I liked the main character and her undoubted flaws and enjoyed reading how she came to allow herself to love all her children and rekindle the relationship with her father. There were many depictions of the sordid lifestyles of addicts and I felt the inevitability of the outcomes for them.

I recommend this book and would read more by the author.
Was this review helpful?
What would you do for the perfect life? Would you lie? Would you steal? Would you kill?... 

Alex Dahl's debut novel 'The Boy At The Door' is a cross between a domestic noir and a psychological thriller that is based in the picture-postcard town of Sandefjord, Norway. Interior designer Cecilia Wilborg's seemingly perfect life is actually built on lies, secrets and deception. She portrays herself as having the ideal life - an attractive husband, Johan, two beautiful daughters and a large house in the countryside. Then Tobias enters her life and turns everything upside down. Can this small, friendless eight-year-old really bring Cecilia's world crashing down?

It was the premise that initially caught my attention here and this was a book I very much enjoyed. There is tension, twists and suspense aplenty as the story slowly unfurls and Cecelia unravels. It is a book that will pose provocative and intriguing questions that will get you thinking deeper about your actions and their possible consequences. The characters are unlikable but that never worries me or impacts my appreciation as I know that the majority of characters in a crime thriller will be that way, it's the nature of the books I read. They do, however, feel realistic and believable which is more important to me. Something else I thought was excellent was the fact that there was humour interspersed throughout the book, and it served to lighten the mood at key times.

Many thanks to Head of Zeus for an ARC. I was not required to post a review and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.
Was this review helpful?
4.5 stars!   This was gripping, suspenseful and intense.   I’m so impressed that this is a debut novel!

The storyline pulled me in from the very first page.   We meet Cecilia Wilborg and her picture-perfect family - a handsome husband and two beautiful daughters.  After watching her daughters’ weekly swimming lessons, Cecilia is asked to drive eight-year-old Tobias home from the swimming centre after his parents fail to pick him up.  The decision to drive Tobias home changes Cecilia’s life forever.

These characters got to me – there were two extremely stand out characters (I won’t mention names to avoid potential spoilers).   I adored these characters and wanted to reach out and hug them several times throughout this novel.  I felt deeply immersed within the whirlwind of stress and chaos that kept me flipping the pages of this book as fast as possible.  There is an extremely dark side of this story that had me hoping for a positive outcome.   My curiosity for how the novel would conclude overshadowed my every thought once I started this book, even when I wasn’t reading it.   I simply had to know how things would end.  

The suspense will keep you flipping the pages.  The twists will keep you guessing.   The writing will leave you feeling satisfied upon finishing.    The ending will make you gasp!

I read this with my Traveling Sisters and we all enjoyed the thrilling journey we made with these characters. 

A big thank you to NetGalley, Head of Zeus and Alex Dahl for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review!
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to Head Of Zeus and NetGalley for the free ARC copy of this book! I was so excited to read this book after reading the description and was thrilled to begin.

The words to describe this book - thrilling, chilling, and lies! And that cover!? Oh my gosh, it gives me chills. I loved this book from beginning to end. It was very well written and I loved it from the beginning. I was hooked from the start and it kept my interest throughout the entire book, as I read more and more to see what would happen next. There wasn't a dull moment at all in this book and I loved that.  There are so many shocking revelations, twists and turns, betrayal and lies. 

This book follows the story of the Wilborg family - Cecilia, her husband  and their two daughters. Cecilia has it all - a loving and devoted husband who is very successful at his job and makes a lot of money, two beautiful daughters, and a lovely big home. To everyone in their community, Cecilia has a perfect life. Cecilia works very hard to keep up that image. 

One day while Cecilia is leaving the community pool with her daughters, one of the workers at the pool asks if Cecilia will take a little boy with her and drop him off at his home. It appears the little boy was dropped off at the pool and someone hadn't yet shown up to pick him up and the pool was closing. Cecilia wasn't happy with this, but decided to take the boy with them, and took him to the address given to her to where the boy lived. When they arrive at the house, it appears to be abandoned. Cecilia asks the little boy if this is the correct address and the boy is adamant that it is. Cecilia and the boy enter the home (the door is unlocked) only to find it empty and barren. The boy couldn't possibly live here?!? 

The boy doesn't say a lot, mostly nodding and shaking his head in answer to many questions. He does speak randomly, but getting him to talk is rare. Not wanting to leave the child alone in what appears to be an abandoned and run down house all alone, she is not sure what to do with the boy. With no other choice, Cecilia takes him back to her place until she can find out who the child belongs to and how to get in touch with them.

Cecilia is confused. Why would someone drop the young boy off at the pool and then not return for him? What was she going to do with the boy? He couldn't possibly live with her and her family in her house? 

Without giving too much away this book was seriously amazing! I loved it from beginning to end. Great for fans of any type of thriller books. Read this one, you won't be disappointed!
Was this review helpful?