#1 – Let the Right One In, by John Aivide Lindqvist
I’m not sure what I was expecting when I first opened Let the Right One In, but what I found was worlds better than anything I could have imagined. John Aivide Lindqvist weaves a dark and twisted world populated by the creatures of our darkest nightmares. These vampires are of the most interesting breeds – a ravenous creature trapped forever in the body of a child, and a vicious, mindless monster.
One of the most interesting things about this novel is the perspective from which we see it. The main character is a young boy named Oskar, and yet the content is definitively adult. The horror seen through the veil of a child’s eyes makes it all the more chilling. Oskar befriends a young girl, only to discover that Eli is a vampire in the most traditional sense, bathing in blood and bleeding from every pore whenever she enters a home uninvited. But the relationship they envelop is powerful, and it is compelling – she teaches him to be strong, and he seems to offer her an intimacy that she has desperately craved. When she feeds on her adult keeper, the man who has killed countless people to satiate her thirst, but fails to kill him, he returns as a mindless beast. He hunts her mercilessly, not to kill her, but to satisfy a much darker lust. The visceral fear that this novel invoked in me is impossible to explain – you’ll just have to try it yourself.
This novel is known for its horror exterior, but it touches on much deeper issues. Pedophilia, violent bullying, drugs, and all varieties of murder are completely in reach of this author’s voice, and he handles them beautifully. Eli is a wonderfully constructed character, a vicious monster and yet fragile, seemingly helpless. She is one of the most unique and frightening incarnations of the vampire archetype that I’ve ever seen, and she lingered in my mind long after I had turned the last page. This vicious little murderer makes Let the Right One In, by John Aivide Lingqvist, #1 on my Halloween Monster Story Countdown.