Book Review: Let the Old Dreams Die / Author: John Ajvide Lindqvist / Publisher: Quercus / Release Date: Out Now
Whatever came of Oskar and Eli after the events of Let the Right One In? Or the zombies' families following Handling the Undead? Swedish horror author John Ajvide Lindqvist answers these questions and more in Let the Old Dreams Die, a book of haunting, romantic, funny and chilling short stories which reacquaints us with old characters and introduces us to creations new. And yes, 'let the old dreams die' is another line from a song by the Smiths (the one which directly follows 'let the right one in', in fact).
Those expecting a proper sequel to Let the Right One In may be disappointed by the direction which Lindqvist decides to take the story. It's an epilogue rather than a sequel, and one in which Oskar and Eli barely figure. In the book's personable afterword, Lindkvist himself states that the story came about due to a need to clarify an ambiguity with Let the Right One In that he wasn't too happy with. Taken on its own merits, it's a sweet, darkly romantic little tale which is as readable alone as it is a sort-of sequel to Let the Right One In. Personally I preferred the ambiguity the novel left us with, but it is the author's prerogative to steer the story as he sees fit.
His other little sequel is The Final Processing, which brings back the zombies and their families from Handling the Undead. That book might be less well known than his famous vampire novel, but it's a very interesting take on zombie fiction. As they are wont to do within a horror universe, the dead suddenly return to life. But instead of being the George A. Romero style brain munchers we all know and love, they're much less deadly and more emotionally affecting. Lindqvist's return to this world is a more traditional sequel than Let the Old Dreams Die, but still very worthwhile. The romantic undercurrent runs through, with yet another sweet romance amongst lost souls.
His sequels may be the main attraction, but that's not to say that the other stories are disposable, by any means. There are eleven stories in the anthology, each one gripping and different. The best story in the book is the opening tale, Borders. A disfigured, lonely border guard forms an unlikely friendship during a chance encounter with a very strange individual and his dark secret. The tale heads in an entirely unexpected direction and there's even a cheeky reference to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series hidden there too. To say more – about this or any of the other stories – would be to spoil the fun of Lindqvist's work, in which very little is as it first appears.
Let the Old Dreams Die is a haunting, playful collection of stories by one of horror's most original voices. Lindkvist is a master of subverting sub-genres of horror. While these tales are a little more straightforward than his longer form work, they're very gripping, soulful and imaginative. It's perhaps the best collection of stories I've read since Clive Barker's Books of Blood.
As if we didn't know already, Lindquist remains one of the most imaginative, original and affable voices in horror today. In the words of the mighty Morrissey himself: I will advise you until my mouth dries, I will advise you to Let the Right One In.