Year of Publication: 2004
Number of Pages: 519 pages
Genre: Horror, vampire, coming of age
Summary: The story is set in Blackeberg a suburb of Stockholm, Sweden in 1981. Twelve year old Oskar Eriksson is an outsider with few friends, who is bullied at school, misses his absent father and is bored of his life in a Blackeberg housing scheme. However he is fascinated by the reports of a killer on the loose who is butchering local teens. One evening he meets a mysterious girl called Eli who lives in the flat next door with a man who is apparently her father. Oskar and Eli soon strike up a strong friendship which quickly blossoms into a romance. However Eli has a disturbing secret. She is a two hundred year old vampire who is forever trapped as a twelve year old and cursed with an endless thirst for human blood.
Opinions: This book was an instant cult hit in it's native Sweden and it's author has been described as "the new Stephen King" (which is a description that seems to be applied to almost every successful new horror author). However in Lindqvist's case the comparison is quite accurate. Like Stephen King he has a very strong sense of time and place. The drabness and boredom of Oskar's daily life is strikingly evoked. The mundanity of the book's setting makes the horror all the more affecting and believable. Linqvist also has a strong sense of character with even fairly minor characters being well drawn with realistic personalities. This is especially striking with the vampire-child Eli who is both terrifying and sympathetic often at the same time. The book doesn't skimp on the horror elements either having some very graphic violence in places. However it does deserve points for making the all-too familiar figure of the vampire disturbing again. The book takes a while to get into it's stride but when it does it delivers gripping horror thrills as well as a genuinely moving coming of age story. Definitely recommended.
The book was adapted to a critically acclaimed Swedish film in 2008 called Let the Right One In, directed by Tomas Alfredson and starring Kare Hedebrant and Lina Leandersson. An English language adaptation called Let Me In is due for release, directed by Matt Reeves and starring Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloe Moretz.