I have to say right at the beginning that I really love stories about vampires. That’s not to say that I am uncritical; there are at least two series of vampire novels that I’ve stopped following because the the stories have become formulaic (I won’t mention any names…..). But it means that I’m always on the lookout for something interesting in the genre, and was thrilled to come across Let The Right One In by accident when browsing in a bookshop.

According to the blurb on the cover, Lindqvist has “reinvented the vampire novel” and there is “a whiff of the new Stephen King” so this was a no brainer for me. And I’m so glad that I picked it up, as it is a genuinely creepy and unsettling book which has been stuck in my head over the few days since I finished it.

We are in Sweden, a suburb of Stockholm to be exact, on a council estate. Oskar is 12 years old, being brought up by his mother alone and bullied at school. One night, while acting out a fantasy of revenge in the local play area, he meets Eli, a girl of indeterminate age, and they form a bond. She gives him the courage to face up to his problems, but it soon becomes clear that she isn’t what she seems; she is in fact a vampire who is at least 200 years old.

That’s the set-up, but there is so much more to this story. It’s incredibly bleak in places, a lot of the characters lead disappointedlives, the children are mainly from broken homes. However, the supernatural element blends in; Eli is a victim also, turned into a vampire when a child, not really understanding how it all works but knowing what she needs to do to survive. It’s incredibly gruesome in places (which I don’t mind)  but also really affecting, and I found the end satisfying.

I’m not sure I’ve done this unusual story justice, but if you want something new in the vampire tradition then give this a try.

This is my third read for the RIP III challenge.

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