The vampire fiction novel focuses on the relationship of Oskar, a 12 year old boy tormented by his classmates and Eli, a vampire hiding in the body of a 12 year old girl.
Set in the early 1980s Blackeberg, the working class suburb Stockholm, this chilling novel explores the relationship between the two, revealing delicate and harrowing events as well as dissecting fragments of Eli’s human form. The title refers to the Morrissey song Let the Right One Slip In, also the element of vampire folklore which says that vampires cannot enter a house unless invited.
This is NOT another long winded, tender and loved up kind of vampire novel, this novel takes the new wave of vampirisms and successfully tears it to shreds!
Back to basics, terrifyingly chilling story that Lindqvist delivers with such distinctive themes, he adds alcoholism, fatherlessness, school bullying, paedophilia, child transgenderism, murder and Eli’s assistant who only adds to a variety of characters all interlocking towards a vigorous climax. This wasn’t the easiest read, as a complex novel with an array of characters (some of which pop in quickly), but I can assure you once you’ve mastered the names and follow through the narrative, its exquisite!
The author delivers a fantastic understanding of the vampire myths continuously surprising as Eli’s past is revealed to her new friend Oskar. Here comes a novel that refuses to cut away from horrific themes however, not shying away from the importance of trust and loyalty thus giving birth to the horror mood that cuts into us so vividly. So when you tear away the horror in this novel, you encounter a dead city, a hunt for companionship in a world withered with loneliness.
Oskar and Eli develop a close bound when they meet, as both are victims in different worlds, it’s a relief they found each other, the loyal nature and dependence on each other is reflected beautifully. As Oskar lives with his mother on a housing estate, as he’s bullied to the point of carrying a “pissball” in his pants to prevent any unexpected urine spills, the opening scene forces us to read on as Oskar is torn by the bullies egging him to make noises like a pig, the whole experience left me feeling uncomfortable as the story unravels there’s a lot of times I’d cover my mouth and hunch my shoulders, yet this proves as gripping as you continuously feel things can get better. Oskar dreams about his absent father connecting the undertones of a world of adolescent boys and the genius behind how important the presence of a father is to a boy’s life, which reflects the idea of a world without the guidance a love of a father, seemingly the boys are lost in a pitfall of violence and mistrust. When we are introduced to Eli, frozen in childhood, forced to live on fresh cut blood, she becomes the other half of Oskar and starts to push further from his comfort zone as the friendship they share is something so unique from any horror novel I have read before, there is something enticing about having a friendship when all hope is lost.
This merciless vampire novel compliments the setting perfectly especially one to read for the raw vampire fans, it’s everything Twilight should of been and more, I’d even go as far as saying that Let The Right One In is in the same league of excellence as Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Interview With The Vampire!
The location feels as wholesome as the characters, you can feel the uncanny presence seemingly ready to engulf the light away. As Lindqvist grew up there, the experiences and descriptions feel all too real because of the depth the author gives, I’ve spoken about how the trust lies as a key theme, but needless to say the trust also stems from reader to author too.
The title, referencing the Morrisey song and refers to a vampiric inability to enter one’s home without an invitation and the idea that each of us chooses who we invite into our lives and who we close out.
So there it is, let the coldness of this novel drift you towards a delicate and modest gothic horror that lifts all the emotions and flood your insecurities, it’s so chilling you may need to wear double socks.
Publisher: St Martin’s Griffin
Release Date: 2008