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Search tags: Scandinavian-authors
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review 2019-08-31 22:22
Let the Right One In / John Ajvide Lindqvist
Let the Right One In - John Ajvide Lindquist

It is autumn 1981 when the inconceivable comes to Blackeberg, a suburb in Sweden. The body of a teenage boy is found, emptied of blood, the murder rumored to be part of a ritual killing. Twelve-year-old Oskar is personally hoping that revenge has come at long last---revenge for the bullying he endures at school, day after day.

 

But the murder is not the most important thing on his mind. A new girl has moved in next door---a girl who has never seen a Rubik's Cube before, but who can solve it at once. There is something wrong with her, though, something odd. And she only comes out at night.

 

Do you despise vampire stories? Do you find the living dead to be depicted as too beautiful, too powerful, too rich, too sexy altogether? Then this, my friend, is the vampire story for you!

Yes, Anne Rice had the child-vampire Claudia, but Lindqvist shows us a more realistic existence for a tween vampire. Struggling to find enough sustenance, making deals with unscrupulous humans in order to procure a meal, needing adult help to acquire & pay for shelter. On the one hand, Sweden would be a good choice of location, at least during the winter. Long nights, short days. But the summertime would be a misery of sunshine, lasting until well after midnight and beginning again shortly after the sun finally sets.

If you’ve read Scandinavian mysteries, you are already familiar with the mood of this book: dark, bleak, cold, with a clear, unromantic view of life. Scandinavian detectives are most often divorced, at odds with any children they may have, often drinking more alcohol than they should be, overworking in order to avoid their problems. Lindqvist brings a similar population to this book: a bullied tween boy who is fixated on murder stories, the bullies who are an unhappy and neglected part of a broken home, a group of older alcoholic men who merely exist from day to day, a grocery store clerk who cares about one of these men in a hopeless kind of way, a boy who is unhappy about his father’s death and now with his mother’s choice of boyfriend, and a pedophile who has taken in a tween vampire in an uneasy, unequal relationship. There is plenty of alcohol abuse, existential angst, cold weather, snow, darkness, and despair. Not the usual surroundings for the Lords of the Night!

And you know what? It works. Really well. Lindqvist takes the vampire tale back to its roots, back to being revolting corpses, with an extra dose of bleakness and cold. There’s absolutely nothing sexy about vampirism here--but a bracing dose of what their existence would actually be like. You know, if they actually existed.

An excellent book to prepare myself for the plunge into this year’s Halloween Bingo on Booklikes.

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review 2019-04-15 18:25
The Little Mermaid / Metaphrog
The Little Mermaid - Metaphrog

The Little Mermaid lives deep under the ocean and longs to see the world above. When at last she is allowed to rise to the surface at age fifteen, she falls in love with a young prince. In order to become a human and to be with him, she makes a dangerous pact with the Sea Witch.

 

This is the ultimate Mermaid tale—the one that got the ball rolling, so to speak. Having just re-read a bunch of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales, this story was very fresh in my mind. I headed into this graphic novel unsure of which version I was getting, HCA’s or Disney’s. I am happy to report that it was very true to the Andersen version.

The artwork was beautiful and I would be happy to recommend it to all ages of reader. I remember reading a comic book version of this tale as a child and being very scared by the Sea Witch. In this version, she is not nearly so scary in my opinion, but I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing. Bad people don’t necessarily look bad and that’s a valuable lesson to learn.

I was struck by the fact that the Little Mermaid is only 15 years old, and that’s in a species that lives to be 300. She is so young to be making these life changing decisions! I mean, who among us is married to the person we were in love with at 15? Not very many!

Read for my 2019 MerMay Project, which is getting an early start because I’ll be on vacation for half of the month of May.

 

My 2011 photo of the Little Mermaid in the Copenhagen Harbour

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review 2018-06-08 15:41
Macbeth / Jo Nesbø
Macbeth (Hogarth Shakespeare) - Jo Nesbo

He’s the best cop they’ve got.

When a drug bust turns into a bloodbath it’s up to Inspector Macbeth and his team to clean up the mess.

He’s also an ex-drug addict with a troubled past.

He’s rewarded for his success. Power. Money. Respect. They’re all within reach.

But a man like him won’t get to the top.

Plagued by hallucinations and paranoia, Macbeth starts to unravel. He’s convinced he won’t get what is rightfully his.

Unless he kills for it.

 

 

My enjoyment of this book suffered greatly from a case of bad timing—it came in at the library when I was in the mood for lighter, happier reading. And yet, I’d waited many weeks for it and there were 60 people behind me in line, so I felt duty bound to read it and pass it on. Perhaps I should have returned it and rejoined the line of holds.

Macbeth is a dark, bloody story. Jo Nesbø is expert at dark and bloody plot lines. This is a match made in hell. But I came to realize that when I watch Shakespeare’s version, I am insulated. There are kings and thanes and witches and iambic pentameter, none of which occur in my regular life and I’m able to distance myself from the violence, the blood and the back stabbing. This version, set in a modern town and police department, removed that cotton wool and exposed my nerve endings! During the first third of the book, I had a difficult time picking it back up after a break, because I knew the basic story line and knew that death and destruction were coming. Seeing it in modern terms, with modern weapons, in a current setting somehow made it so much worse and made it so much more relevant to a 21st century reader.

In Nesbø’s version, Macbeth is the successful head of a SWAT team in a town seething with corruption, double dealing and drugs. Everyone is on the take, it seems, if the price is high enough. Macbeth, orphan child, former circus performer, recovering addict, has come up in the world and is poised to go even higher. His love, Lady, has similarly come up from violence and poverty to now own a large and successful casino.

I thought Nesbø’s choice to make Hecate the head of the most successful drug cartel in the town was brilliant, and especially to have three women brewing the drugs. One of these three, Strega (Italian for witch, dontcha know) is Hecate’s main way of communicating with Macbeth and Lady, among others.

Someday, when I’m more in the mood for dark and dangerous, I may take this book on again and see what I make of it the second time around. In the meanwhile, I may check out the National Theatre’s production of the play (starring Rory Kinnear and Anne-Marie Duff) later this month at my local movie theatre.

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text 2018-06-07 15:00
Reading progress update: I've read 390 out of 464 pages.
Macbeth (Hogarth Shakespeare) - Jo Nesbo

 

An involuntary nap last night prevented me from finishing this book.  Tonight I will conquer!

 

 

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text 2018-06-06 14:43
Reading progress update: I've read 311 out of 464 pages.
Macbeth (Hogarth Shakespeare) - Jo Nesbo

 

Three days remaining, 60 people waiting.  I'm feeling the pressure.  Hopefully I can get close to the finish line tonight.

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