I purchased this book as part of the Kindle Spring Sale for £1.01. Not only was I excited to get a bargain but I was also thrilled with the book. Having not seen the Swedish movie or the American remake, I was introduced to the story for the first time by reading the novel that the movies were based on. From being recommended the movie by family and friends, I had a rough idea what the story was about – A Vampire love story.
I’ve read a lot of Vampire stories recently, and have become a little tired with them to be honest. I do love my True Blood series but everything else seems to feel like it’s jumping on the Vampire bandwagon. As more of a classic horror novel, I decided to give this a go and was very glad I did.
The story follows 12-year-old Oskar, targeted by the class bullies and wishing he could disappear. Near to where he lives, the police find dead bodies, which they believe to be caused by a ‘Ritual Killer’. At the same time, he meets and befriends a neighbourhood girl called Eli and soon realises that maybe his new found friend and the murders are linked.
I really loved the character of Oskar – although only 12 and bullied by his classmates, he is extremely intellegent and has a wonderful imagination. The writer has created scenes where Oskar believes he’s someone else, a hero, slaying bullies and bad guys. John Ajvide Lindqvist has captured the imagination of this 12 year old outcast perfectly. Oskar, with very few people in his life and only books for company until he meets Eli, creates this heroic alter-ego to get him through his days.
The story itself felt a little long but it was well paced and the way the writer went from character to character really pulled you into this Swedish estate. There are so many characters – from Oskar and Eli, to Eli’s ‘Dad’ Håkan, Oskar’s teenage neighbour Tommy, the bullies, and a group of alcholics who not only bare witness to the murders, but become victims also. The whole group of characters seem seperate and unrelated at the beginning, but soon their paths are brought together, and only the reader will understand their significance from their backstory.
The novel had a very Stephen King-eqsue quality to it. It mixes a ‘coming of age’ story of friendship and love, with the horror of the supernatural. Particularly in the last scene of the novel at the swimming pool, I had flashbacks of Stephen King’s Carrie, along with many other King classics throughout the book. Being a fan of Stephen King, of course this is only a good thing!
Overall, it’s a really enjoyable novel. Although long, it’s packs into the story so many characters who are directly and indirectly affected by Eli and the murders, and they are all brought together very well as the story concludes. Lindqvist has done a marvellous job of creating potentially horrific characters that you feel attached to, and combining a sweet story of friendship with that of a supernatural thriller.
4 Stars ****