I read and really liked Let the Right One In last year, so I knew I had to check out at least one more of Lindqvist’s books. He’s been described as “Sweden’s answer to Stephen King” (it’s right there on the book cover!), and I’d say that’s pretty accurate. I like!
Little Star opens with Lennart, a sad old man who was once part of a semi-popular Swedish band. He’s off looking for mushrooms in the forest because maybe it’s not normal to buy mushrooms at the store in 1990′s Sweden. Or maybe he really likes chanterelles and hedgehog mushrooms. Either way, instead of bringing home a nice big basket of mushrooms for his wife Laila to cook or something, he brings home a live baby girl that he found in a plastic bag in a shallow grave. She’s only a few months old, but she’s very quiet aside from when she “sings,” which, until she’s old enough to talk is basically just holding a note. But it’s a perfect note, and Lennart decides to keep her so he can teach her more about music and help her to further develop that perfect singing voice. It sounds kind of nice — Lennart has saved this baby from certain death. It’s not actually nice at all though, because he keeps her a secret and locks her in his cellar to protect her from being poisoned by the terrible pop music everyone else listens to. Laila tries to convince Lennart to provide the girl with a normal life, but he refuses. He wants her to be a blank slate so her music will always be his idea of perfect. Lennart’s son, a grown man named Jerry, discovers the girl and names her Theres. He calls Theres his sister and visits her often, but seems pretty okay with the fact that she’s being kept in a cellar.
For a while, the book is just… super weird. Theres is a strange kid. At first, I thought maybe she had Austism, as her behavior seemed to suggest it. Actually, I thought the book wasn’t going to be anything more than this little girl locked in a cellar and her new “family” finding out she’s Autistic and trying to deal with it while still keeping everything a secret. Maybe there’d be a bit about Theres experiencing the real world for the first time and freaking out or something. I was totally wrong!
At 13, Theres goes to live with Jerry, and that’s around the time things went from weird to crazy. Despite the fact that she’s still very strange, emotionally detached, and can’t form a proper sentence, she makes a friend, Teresa, on the internet. Teresa is overweight, has the worst self-esteem ever, and feels extremely unloved. Her friendship with Theres makes her feel special, and she clings to it no matter what. Together, Theres and Teresa convince twelve other sad and lonely girls to join their “wolf pack,” which seems more like a cult than a group of friends. The girls obsess over Theres like she has them all under some sort of spell. They treat her like something fragile they have to protect, someone who could do no wrong (even though she totally did some major wrong and they knew about it). She tells the wolf pack to do some insane stuff and they do it, hardly any questions asked. If you are not squeamish, please read this book so you can know about the insane stuff!
Little Star isn’t scary in a supernatural way. There are no monsters, no one is possessed by a murderous ghost or turns into a werewolf once a month. Theres does seem supernatural at times, but she’s probably just weird because she was raised in a cellar by an old man obsessed with music. Nah, this book is scary in a much worse way. It’s scary because even though a lot of the crazy stuff seems a little over the top, it almost feels like it could happen. If I read a vampire book, for example, it can be creepy, sure, but it’s also about a vampire, which is something that doesn’t exist. I’m not scared by it. I can put it down when I’m finished and go about my day without wondering what would happen if I saw a vampire, how I would react, what I would say or do. But books that have nothing to do with magic or magical creatures stay with me longer, especially when they’re of the horror genre. These books are about people, and people exist. Nothing is more terrifying than people. Lonely people, evil people, confused people. All real, and all capable of terrible things. I could step outside and meet an evil dude right now. I probably already know a maniac or two. I hope I don’t, though!
I think Lindqvist is my favorite foreign author. He references some famous Swedish people and events I don’t know anything about, but he does it sparingly and I never feel confused or out of the loop. He’s probably a favorite author in general, actually. I just love the way he keeps things so mysterious. He doesn’t offer an explanation for everything, you just have to come up with theories yourself, which is not always easy. I like!