Title: Let The Right One In
Author: John Ajvide Lindqvist
Publisher: Quercus http://www.quercusbooks.co.uk/
Oskar and Eli. In very different ways, they were both victims. Which is why, against the odds, they became friends. And how they came to depend on one another, for life itself. Oskar is a 12 year old boy living with his mother on a dreary housing estate at the city’s edge. He dreams about his absentee father, gets bullied at school, and wets himself when he’s frightened. Eli is the young girl who moves in next door. She doesn’t go to school and never leaves the flat by day. She is a 200 year old vampire, forever frozen in childhood, and condemned to live on a diet of fresh blood. John Ajvide Lindqvist’s novel, a huge bestseller in his native Sweden, is a unique and brilliant fusion of social novel and vampire legend. And a deeply moving fable about rejection, friendship and loyalty.
I should have read Let The Right One In before I read Little Star (see my review) but only because this was Lindqvist’s first novel. Fortunately, the two are stand alone and in terms of the stories can be read in any order, but I think writers who read them chronologically will appreciate the evident development of Linqvist’s style and technique. There is much to be learned.
I have to confess I am now a firm fan of this Scandinavian author, albeit late to the party. I saw the film of this book and enjoyed it, and even if it’s a cliche I have to say that the book is better – far, far better – than the film. I wish someone would make a film and keep the whole story, sod the running time – it would be the best horror flick in history.
Yes, it’s a vampire story – but if you think you’ve had it up to the neck with vampires I urge you to think again. Let The Right One In is as much about the woes of social exclusion, loneliness, dejection, family dysfunction, bullying, alcoholism and coming of age as it is about blood sucking. As a divorced father there were times it pulled me up short and made me review my life. At the same time, Linqvist creates wonderfully round and weird characters but all of them totally believable. The pages are filled with pure horror of the multi-layered kind not seen since the early works of Clive Barker. And after all of this, I defy you not to feel sorry for the vampire.
It is a bloody good read and deserves 5 stakes.