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As the nights close in, I’m inevitably drawn to the darker side of nature again…

Let the Old Dreams Die is a collection of short stories by the author of Let the Right One In, and here Lindqvist shows himself to be master of the form. From trolls to vampires, he weaves terrifying tales of horror. The title story picks up the pieces from his celebrated vampire novel, and The Final Processing follows the events after his unusual zombie novel Handling the Undead; both of which are very satisfying if you’re a fan of his books, but they stand alone perfectly well. But he also explores new territory – in Border, a customs officer stops a mysterious traveller only to discover that she herself is not quite human. Village on the Hill includes some startling imagery which will make you nervous of tower blocks and toilets, and the secret of defying death extracts a terrible price in Eternal / Love. But my favourite is the short Paper Walls, which captures perfectly the imagination and terror of childhood.

Lindqvist is definitely my favourite horror writer; his prose is beautiful, which makes the gruesomeness of his tales more shocking, but never gratuitous. He has the ability to make his worlds absolutely real, so the most bizarre events feel plausible, and even his most depraved characters inspire sympathy in the reader. His is real literary horror, and the comparisons with Stephen King which litter covers and reviews don’t do him justice – he’s a far more skillful writer, and there is a sense of something much deeper in his characters and worlds. Thoughtful, intelligent horror indeed, and thoroughly recommended. *****

Quercus, 2013, ISBN 9780857385512

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