Wow, what a ride this book has been. I obviously really enjoyed it, because I simply could not stop reading it but I don’t think I would watch either of the movie adaptations. I don’t think I would be able to take it.
The story is set in the early 80s in a suburb of Stockholm. The protagonist is Oskar, a 12 year old boy who is bullied at school, incontinent, and above all lonely. His parents are divorced. In his spare time, he fantasizes about being strong enough to act against his bullies, having an unnatural interest in killers. One night he meets a girl from his apartment block on the playground: Eli.
From that point on, a crazy but above all entirely depressing story evolves concerning Eli and those around her. There’s Hakan, who lives with her. A pedophile who is serving Eli so that she will let him touch her. There’s Lacke, Virginia and friends, a bunch of worn out alcoholics leading a life of poverty and depression that is shook up when one of them disappears. There’s Tommy, a teenage delinquent who has to come to terms with it that his mother is going to marry a stern police officer who doesn’t have qualms about beating women. So many lives, all of them miserable, and in the middle of it all, the story about the vampire Eli.
If you are easily queasy, this might not be the book for you. I cringed my way through some parts, especially most things involving Hakan, or that terrible scene involving cats. There’s lots of blood, violent deaths, but above all, loneliness and depression. This is not only a horror story, this is about the lonely dark places people go to. I felt particularly sad for the rather tragic Lacke. If you enjoy dark stories, this is definitely a good one to read.
Are all Swedish books dark and depressing? A long shot from my Astrid Lindgren-colored youth.