Book Review: Let the Right One In

Book-cover-UK

Vampires have haunted the collective unconscious from the dawn of time. And yet, the question remains. Do these nightwalkers have something more to say? Lindqvist proves that, yes, indeed they have.

1981. In Blackeberg, Stockholm, a strange child , Eli, moves with an older man to an apartment close to a 12-year-old boy, Ocar, who lives with his mother. Oscar dreams of his absent father and gets mercilessly bullied at school. As a form of escapism, he resorts to morbid interests including crime and forensics and keeping a scrapbook with newspaper articles about murders.

Oscar befriends Eli who turns out to be a 200-year-old vampire stuck forever in a body of a castrated boy, mascarading as a girl. Time passes, they get closer to each other and reveal aspects of their life. As a result, Oscar becomes more confident and fights back against his bullies with Eli’s encouragement.

Meanwhile, Hakan, the middle-aged man who’s in love with Eli and  becomes her faithful servant, traps and kills people in order to procure her blood. Into the novel’s tapestry the stories of other people get woven. Tommy who’s a rebellious teenager and friend of Oscar. A group of middle-aged friends, from whom one, Virginia, gets attacked by Eli and chooses to kill herself to avoid the curse of vampirism. Jonny and Jimmy who torture Oscar but endure their own abuse at home.

Let the Right One In isn’t a story for the faint of heart. It’s steeped in sadness, heartache, misery and bleakness. Frightened creatures who live in loneliness and violence, without hope and light, terrified of life itself, prowling between the dark forest and the gloomy town. The most abominable aspects of the human condition parade in the book’s pages: pain, fear, abuse, alcoholism, pedophilia, torture, abandonment, humiliation, revenge. But, also, love in its different manifestations and the willingness to reach out to others.

In a society that barely survives by feasting on its own flesh, Lindqvist very cleverly leaves the reader with the burning question: Who is the real monster? Eli implores Oskar, ”Be me a little.” And Oskar himself wonders: ”Which monster do you choose?”

Let the Right One In puts a new, refreshing spin on the vampire myth, giving us the portrait of a cursed creature who is as tragic and pitiful as creepy and terrifying. A tragedy that unfolds against a modern, realistic setting and one of the finest novels in horror fiction. Don’t miss it!

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