Published by: Head of Zeus
Date of publication: 8 July 2021
Format reviewed: e-copy
Alone and isolated in a vast Scandinavian forest, a therapist begins to read her client’s novel manuscript, only to discover the main character is terrifyingly familiar…
Kristina is a successful therapist in central Oslo. She spends her days helping clients navigate their lives with a cool professionalism that has got her to the top. But when her client Leah, a successful novelist, arrives at her office clearly distressed, begging Kristina to come to her remote cabin in the woods, she feels balance begin to slip.
Out in the woods, when Leah fails to turn up to her next two sessions, Kristina reluctantly heads out into the wilderness to find her.
Tuesday 13th July 2021
Session with Meggy Roussel (file 376)
Meggy: I am weirdly obsessed with psychology and therapists (don’t tell my therapist! Darn it, you are my therapist here…) *insert crazy little laugh of embarrassment* What was I saying? Yes, so, I could not pass the chance to read Cabin Fever, especially when I loved Playdate by the same author, Alex Dahl.
The therapist: How so?
Meggy: Don’t you love a brilliant writing at the service of claustrophobic plots?
The therapist: It seems a little… tense.
Meggy: It is supposed to be. If you don’t want tension, pick another book. But I’m not talking about the jolt of adrenaline that comes and goes sometimes in thrillers. I am talking about the taut atmosphere that wraps itself around you as you start reading. Diving into Cabin Fever was like stepping into a lukewarm dark sea. I could feel the prose ensnaring me, and I did not mind.
The therapist: Do you enjoy dangerous situations?
Meggy: Only when I can live them from the safety of my couch! I’m no crazy daredevil. I don’t even like rollercoasters.
The therapist: Tell me more about this book.
Meggy: See, you’re interested! Obsession. What is it? No – don’t give me the definition from your books. I mean, what does it feel like? Lies. What do they taste like? Secrets. What do they sound like? The answers to those questions lie within the pages of Cabin Fever.
The therapist: It sounds deep enough…
Meggy: Deep enough to drown in its toxicity. Imagine. You are a successful therapist. You are married to a successful politician. You successfully recovered from a trauma (at least, in appearance). What does it say about you?
The therapist: That success has many definitions.
Meggy: Right? When a client turns up in a state, begging you to meet her in her remote cabin in the woods, what do you do? I would not go. I need a Tesco around the corner. But again. Questions. Why does she want to see you there? What happened to her? This is how you end up rewinding your sessions, looking for clues, all the while fighting the demons you hide beneath your lovely clothes and carefully applied makeup.
The therapist: Do you enjoy internal struggles?
Meggy: Do you breathe? Cabin Fever is, well… like a fever. Once you’ve got it, you can’t stop it from spreading, invading your head and body. One of the main characters, the therapist, her name is Kristina. Well, Kristina does not notice straight away, or maybe the fire of her true self hides it long enough, but she does get this fever. She can’t help being curious. And when it becomes personal, when she realizes she is the obsession, the drive to know how far her client has gone brings her to …
The therapist: The cabin.
Meggy: Thanks for following! Anyway, Kristina is one hell of a therapist, and one of her strengths stems from overcoming trauma herself. But can you really do that? I didn’t get to choose my therapist, my other therapist. My real-life one. He was assigned to me, poor him. But the story made me think of how important it is to find the right person. After all, you’re going to take off layer after layer until you stand naked in front of a stranger.
The therapist: Are we still talking about therapy?!
Meggy: YES! The book revolves around trauma in such an intense way that you could almost see the invisible scars it left. A therapist who survived, a best friend who did not, a client with a sick game, and a famous husband. The stifling atmosphere is enhanced by the number of characters, the snow, and a poison hidden in the ink of the novel.
The therapist: Didn’t you read it on your Kindle?
Meggy: Do you have to take everything literally? What I mean is Cabin fever is a very enjoyable Scandinavian thriller with a touch of something so dark you might start to look at people twice after you read it.
Session over after client starts looking at fake blog-therapist in a suspicious way.
Thank you to the team at Midas for inviting me to be part of this tour and for providing me with a copy of the book.