I got some books for Christmas – of course – and will probably get some – I hope – for my birthday on 4th January. I normally wait until after my birthday to assess the entire haul and choose a new book for the new year, but for some reason this time I wanted to dive right into the Christmas batch. Enter Let The Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist!
I heard about both the Swedish and American film versions when they came out and thought it looked interesting, but never got around to seeing either film – so thought I might read the book first. There has been a big trend for vampires in books, TV and film in recent years that has all got a bit samey, and I liked that this is not your standard vampire story, or at all hammy or melodramatic. The fact that is also a story about the trials of growing up adds another intriguing layer.
There is an element of the ‘Nordic Noir’ style in the Quercus translation, but of course I cannot tell if that is down to Lindqvist himself or to the translator, Ebba Segerberg. Either way right from the start there is an air of tension and vague upcoming menace that continues throughout the book. This coupled with some excellent characterisation and plot structure means that the book is compelling and compulsive, as well as highly engaging and entertaining.
The second half unfortunately drags a little, and the presence of a group of drunks was at times a little unnecessary, but in a way served to illustrate the greater world that exists around the more central characters; especially when one of them is bitten by the Eli, the twelve year old girl who is also a two hundred year old vampire. And of course (almost) everyone has a part to play in the climax of the story.
I was prepared for gore and grit, so you should be too – there is rather a lot. Almost all of it is necessary to the plot (although the scenes at the library only demonstrate what we learn elsewhere in less graphic and unsettling passages), and adds a good horror flavour to the novel. I am very interested to see how some of it works in the film versions – I have the Swedish version on DVD so will watch that soon, and will most likely watch the American ‘Let Me In’ on Netflix if it’s there. Having just written that I see that the American movie title makes more literal sense in relation to the story. ‘Let the right one in’ is a line from a Morrissey song, but I need to think harder about how it can be applied to the actual story.
Basically, it’s good, read it.