Don’t turn away from this book because you have a profound distaste for vampire stories because this isn’t your run of the mill kind of thing. This is a story about loneliness friendship, love and loyalty.
It’s set in the Stockholm suburbs late 1950’s. Oskar is a boy who lives with his mother, a hard-working woman who tries to make a life for her and her son after her divorce. She has no time for her son. He only tries to be accepted, recognised, has a need to belong, but instead is bullied and lonely; he buries himself in his fantasy world, his books.
One day new people move in the dreary building he lives in. A father and daughter, or so it seems.
Eli never comes out during the day, doesn’t go to school, and yet Oskar takes a liking to her when they meet at the playground. Eli’s father, a timid man, seems more worried about being liked by his daughter than the other way around.
Then Eli talks some courage in Oskar at one of their talks at the night on the playground and he finally tries to defend himself against the bullies. This goes terribly wrong and he ends up severely hurting one of them. Now he has to fear the wrath of the others.
At the same time strange deaths occur among the inhabitants of the housing project and Eli’s father is being picked up under suspicion of mental instability.
By this time Oskar knows Eli’s secret and has no idea how to cope with it. When she risks exposure to safe his life when his tormentors try to kill him, he decides to move away with her, replacing her former companion.
He knows Eli will never be his life-long partner the way a man and a woman grow old together and still he leaves all behind to take care of his friend in a way only he can.
Be warned, there are parts in the book that require stomach, but underneath the gore there is a sweet innocence and a coming of age story. You can’t help but feel for the twelve-year old Oskar and his age old friend Eli.
And when you’re done reading try to get your hands on the original Swedish film, I assure you, it will not disappoint. Not even those who do not like vampire stories, because, and I can’t stress this enough, this is more about emotions than vampires.