John Ajvide Lindqvist hit the ground running with the excellent Let The Right One In, which resurrected the tired vampire trope into a new and darker being that showed paranormal romance how it should be done. He somehow managed to maintain this pace with the ‘difficult’ second and third novels, Handling The Undead and Harbour, setting expectations high for Little Star.
The plot of Little Star is both beautifully simple and incredibly complex. The tale revolves around an abandoned child and the family who find her, but beneath the surface is an incredibly weird narrative that cannot be sufficiently explored without spoilers. Singing babies, serial killing children and Abba feature heavily in what may well be the most surreal yet compelling story in years.
Perhaps it’s the Scandinavian darkness that pervades Lindqvist’s writing or maybe he is channelling the legacy of the Grimms, but this tale, with its overtones of raw nature and evil adults, has the qualities of a dark fairytale before spiralling into gory murder. It’s American Psycho meets Snow White. It’s worth remembering that this is a translation and may deviate from the original, but whether by design or chance the book has an otherworldly feel. Everything is imbued with an oddness that matches and complements the book’s mood perfectly.
The complex themes: nature versus nurture, the loss of childhood innocence, selfishness in the pursuit of fame, and animal instincts, are all beautifully woven into the plot without stifling the story. The book is full of memorable scenes from the fairytale beginning to the Carrie-like ending that is all written in Lindqvist’s engaging and unique prose.
There are some who might criticise the book for what it doesn’t tell us. There are several huge conceits that the reader has to go along with, the true nature of the central character being the most significant, but this adds to the mystery and intrigue.
A wonderful storyteller and wonderful story are a pretty powerful combination and John Ajvide Lindqvist has once again conjured up a magically engaging book.
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