For most readers, the big draw of Let the Old Dreams Die (Thomas Dunne Books; October 1) will be the promise of a sequel story to Let the Right One In. But John Ajvide Lindqvist’s new anthology has so much more to offer. Each and every tale is bred from a strange, morbid poetry, with an underlying vein of humor that runs pitch black. Lindqvist’s fans––and after Let the Right One In and last year’s Little Star, his fans are legion––are going to eat this one alive.
In one of the more amusingly candid afterwards I‘ve ever come across, Linqvist briefly mentions ‘The Border‘, one of the stories in Let the Old Dreams Die. “My favorite is probably ‘The Border’,” he writes, “but it’s led to divided opinions.” ‘The Border’ is indeed a corker of a story, a horror/sci-fi hybrid that you‘re dying to talk about afterwards. In fact, it’s best if I say nothing further, except that it alone is worth the purchase of Lindqvist’s book. If any justice remains in the horror lit universe, the HWA would shit all over themselves nominating ‘The Border’ for a Best Short Fiction award.
But other treasures lie within. ‘A Village in the Sky’ is a Lovecraftian tale of boiler room horror. In ‘Equinox’, a female burglar becomes infatuated with a corpse she discovers in one of the homes she invades. There are stories about aliens, sentient beings, and non-human substitutes. There is a also a sequel story to 2010‘s ‘Handling the Undead‘, as well as various references to his other past work. Over the last few years, Lindqvist has meticulously created a literary universe that he loves to splash around in. And now he’s invited all of us to the pool party.
With Let the Old Dreams Die, it’s time we began to recognize Lindqvist on his own merits. As he states in the afterward, “I write this in the knowledge that as I have been compared with Stephen King in various ways in the past, this is only going to make the situation worse. But, as Vladimir and Estragon say, ‘Nothing to be done’*.”
But there is something to be done. Buy Lindqvist. Read him. Love him. He’s an author who has earned it.
Rating: 4 out of 5 Skulls
*a reference to Beckett’s stage play, Waiting for Godot, in which two dudes kill a bunch of time.