Birth of a Contemporary Vampire Legend: Let the Right One In

by Matt Forcey

Illustration by Tyler Stout

With the Millenium trilogy and other great mysteries like The Man From Beijing finding their way into my collection over the past year, I’ve been on a real Swedish author kick.  Taking a deviation from the inventive page-turners of Larsson and Mankell, I recently picked up Let The Right One In, by yet another Swedish author, John Ajvide Lindqvist.  Set in the early 1980’s Stockholm, the story is an unusual blend of a coming of age buddy tale and an eerie vampire horror. 

Twelve-year-old Oskar lives with his mother, is bullied at school, shoplifts, and keeps a scrapbook of notes and clippings about gruesome murders. Eli, apparently about his age, moves in next door but doesn’t go to school, leaving the flat only at night. Shortly after, the killings start. At first more fascinated than sorry, since one victim had bullied him, Oskar eventually discovers that Eli is a vampire, stuck permanently in childhood.

What should Oskar do, especially when Eli is his friend as much as anyone is? Lindqvist develops the plot in rich detail. The characters, adult and child, are quite convincingly the sort that one would probably cross the street to avoid in any city. Lindqvist also realistically depicts the aftermath of brutal homicide on the nearby: shock and horror, some sleepless nights and bad dreams, despite which you must go to work and get the groceries; eventually, the police leave the neighborhood.

This is a much needed, fresh departure from the other Vampire stories currently splattered upon the zietgeist.  So before the movie comes out on October 1st, I’d highly recommend that you take a few days (it’s a fairly quick read) to enjoy this book.

 Here’s the movie trailer:

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