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It's then sat on the bookshelves for a while, until my brother in law saw it last year and exclaimed (which is always exciting as he's incredibly tall) when he saw it. "Have you read that?! You have to! It's so scary! It's really good!". Right noted. Swedish and scary. Vampires no less.
So it is all of this, but not the scary vampire book I had in my mind. We meet Oskar, who is a bullied and psychologically traumatised if we are being honest, 12 year old boy living in the outskirts of Stockholm. He meets a girl who has moved in next door to him at night time (although that's not hard as it's late autumn/early winter in Sweden) in the playground, and he strikes up a friendship with her. But Eli is a little odd and has some very strange behaviours. But to be fair, so does Oskar.
There are vampires. They do gorey things. But that's not the point of the book. The point of the book to me is really more about friendship and finding someone you can trust and be yourself with. It's about overcoming adversity whether that's bullies, loneliness, thirst for human blood and being the size of a 11 year old. You know. Big issues.
For me, the scariest thing in this book was the setting. Stockholm but where the woods meet the city, in snow and ice and frozen lakes and just fricking cold. But most importantly for me though, was that these things were coming out at night. And it's October/November. THE NIGHTS ARE BECOMING LONGER AND LONGER!
This freaked me out more than anything else really. My own brain doing the maths. I mean, in winter here the nights are only 12-13 hours long at June (longest day). Can you imagine if there were things that could come at you in the night and your nights were 15 hours long and only getting longer?
This was a clever and disconcerting look at vampires. It wasn't what I was expecting and I'm very glad for that. For a subject matter that has been beaten to death over the past decade, this is a refreshing and very Scandinavian take.