Saturday, April 10, 2010

K for Kallos, L for Lindqvist

Stephanie Kallos (Broken for You)

Kallos' novel is all about all things broken--- dreams, spirits, promises, and in one scene, even bones. Margaret is a 75-year old woman who lives alone in a mansion in Seattle with her antique collections who, she is convinced--- either because of her brain tumor, her advanced age or a combination of both, or out of her need for companionship, where under the circumstances no human is suitable--- have souls, personalities, and the ability to communicate with her. She puts out an ad for a boarder and meets Wanda, an emotional twentysomething woman who moves into town to follow the love of her life and attempt to win him back.

The two women develop a friendship that saves both of them. Where Wanda finds comfort, distraction and purpose in repairing Margaret's broken china, she, in turn, becomes Margaret's little project, for the latter's own healing. It's a story of redemption and friendship, with perfectly flawed characters and just the right balance of humor and heartbreak.

John Ajvide Lindqvist (Let The Right One In)

My letter L for the A-Z Reading Challenge is my initiation into the fiction of Lindqvist whose novel Let The Right One In explores the vampire myth. I'm intrigued by vampire stories, from the eerie versions of Stoker and Kostova, the erotic portrayals of Rice and Hamilton, to the entertaining, even hilarious, renditions of Davidson and Meyer. I've read various theories and attempts to explain vampire origins, powers, politics, weaknesses and internal struggles. I, however, have not found a novel that is truly bloodcurdling nor spine-chilling... until Let The Right One In.

It's about a murder; three bullies; a troubled teenaged boy, his mom and her policeman-boyfriend; a group of friends who, in their fifties, struggle with loneliness and unemployment; a 12-year old misfit and his neighbors: a reclusive old man and his daughter, who wears the same pink sweater everyday, smells funny, and only comes out at night. It has all the elements of a potential drama which it is not; of a coming-of-age story which, in an obscure sense, it could be; and of a tale of horror you know it is, though every turn of the page still catches you by surprise no matter how hard you try to convince yourself that you won't be scared. It builds suspense like cold fear at your nape, down to your fingertips, even before you read the words. I was scared out of my pants but I couldn't put it down. It's a must-read, even if you're not a fan of supernatural themes.

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