Let The Old Dreams Die by John Ajvide Lindqvist. Book review

LET THE OLD DREAMS DIE by John Ajvide Lindqvist, Quercus, h/b, £16.99.  www.quercusbooks.co.uk

Reviewed by Stewart Horn

If a novel is great, readers get deeply involved with the plight of the characters.  Often, we wish we could revisit them as we would old friends, and find out if everything turned out okay for them.  In this collection of stories, Lindqvist does that for us twice.  In the titular story we get a glimpse of Oscar and Eli from ‘Let The Right One In’, and in ‘The Final Processing’ we catch up with some characters and get the epic ending we all wanted to Lindqvist’s thoughtful and beautiful zombie novel (How often do you see that phrase?) ‘Handling The Undead’.

For fans of his work, like me, these are a delight, but they are only two stories in a rich and varied collection.  He uses monsters – trolls, vampires, walking corpses, changelings, death incarnate – but all of these familiar tropes are made unique and original in the hands of a writer at the top of his game.  His characters are completely real, even the non-human ones.  They tend to be outsiders, and if he has a recurring theme it’s the plight of isolated individuals in large towns and cities.

His sense of place is outstanding – I feel I now know Sweden, especially Blackeberg.  I don’t even know if it’s a real place, but I would probably recognise it now just from its atmosphere and smell.  He uses the same precision in painting places as he does creating people.   And he has that rare knack of telling a huge story from an intensely personal viewpoint.

A compelling voice, a simply brilliant collection from one of the horror genre’s best living authors.

And let me finish with a shout out for the translator, Marlaine Delargy, who did her job invisibly.