by John Ajvide Lindqvist
Published by Quercus, 2011
John Ajvide Lindqvist hit the ground running with the excellent Let The Right One In, which resurrected the tired vampire trope into a new, darker being, showing the paranormal romancers how it should be done. He somehow managed to maintain the pace with the “difficult” second and third novels, Handling The Undead and Harbour and now along comes Little Star and what do you know, he’s only gone and done it again.
The plot of Little Star is at once both beautifully simple and incredibly complex. The story is a simple tale of an abandoned child and the family who finds her but beneath that surface is an incredibly weird tale which I can’t outline here without spoiling, so I won’t. Suffice to say that singing babies, serial killing children and Abba feature heavily in what may well be the most bizarre, yet compelling tale I have read in a long time.
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 it’s overtones of raw nature and evil adults has the qualities of a dark fairytale before spiralling into gory murder, American Psycho meets Snow White. Remember also, this is a translation and clearly I have no idea how closely it matches the original but whether by design or chance the book has an otherworldly feel, the phrasing, the timing everything is
imbued with an oddness which matches and compliments the mood of the book perfectly.
The complex themes explored here, nature versus nurture, the loss of childhood innocence, selfishness in the pursuit of fame, animal instincts are all beautifully woven into the plot without stifling the story. The book is also full of memorable scenes from the fairytale beginning to the Carrie like ending but all written in Lindqvist’s engaging prose so they retain that feeling of originality.
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 for this reader that adds to the mystery. Life would be boring if every magician explained his tricks and I for one am glad that Lindqvist has retained the mystery and intrigue which is as important to this book as the revelations.
A wonderful storyteller and a wonderful story are a pretty powerful combination and as long as John Ajvide Lindqvist carries on telling stories this good and this well, I will be at the front of the queue to buy them.