Book review: Little Star by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Having struggled previously with finding Scandinavian authors I like, I picked up Little Star by John Ajvide Lindquist. Billed on the cover as “Scandinavia’s answer to Stephen King”, I thought I might enjoy reading this Swedish “horror” book more than some of the mysteries I have tried.

“When Lennart Cederström found the baby girl lying in a plastic bag, she was close to death. As he gave her the kiss of life, her responding breath was a perfect musical note. In that instant, she became his obsession. He could do nothing but take her home. But this little star will take him into the realm of nightmares…”

The synopsis above only covers a small part of what this book is about, so I’ll try not to give too much away. An unhappy middle-aged couple take in a baby that the man has found abandoned. The baby has a very melodious voice, and the man’s musical background gives him the idea to keep her isolated from society and make her something of a protégé. The couple’s adult son realises there is something strange about the child when he visits.

At the same time, there is another girl who feels isolated and has been somewhat bullied. She has a talent for writing poetry and song lyrics. What will happen when these two girls end up meeting as teenagers? And how will they inspire other teenage girls who may be feeling left out of society?

First of all, there aren’t any real parallels between this author and Stephen King, but if you like Stephen King books you may like some of the ideas behind this one. Unfortunately they are not always developed. I think the author could have done more to include background on the abandoned baby’s parents, and why she may have abandoned. There are parts of the story that involves wolves and it wasn’t obvious to me why there should be this connection.

I liked that the book went off in directions that weren’t obvious from reading the synopsis, or even from reading the first 100 pages. It’s definitely a slow build-up, with scary things happening more frequently towards the end of the book. Interestingly, I’m not sure I how feel about any of the main characters and didn’t develop strong feelings about any of them one way or the other – is that the sign of a good book or a bad one?

The length and overall concept of the book were good, and am I am now keen to read Let the Right One In which is also by this author and has been turned into a film. I’m thinking Scandinavian horror may be more my thing than mysteries! It had enough to keep me interested and while not really in Stephen King’s league I was always looking forward to reading it.

Have you read any Lindqvist’s other books? Are there better Scandinavian horror writers out there?

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