John Ajvide Lindqvist
The dust jacket for “Little Star” promises the “next Stephen King.”
No. At least not for American readers. More on that later.
The story of “Little Star” follows two misfit teens in Sweden. One of the girls, eventually called Theres, (She will have several names as the novel progresses) is rescued by a one-time musician when the infant Theres is buried alive by someone.
Good catch, right? Well, somehow this has-been musician thinks that the baby might be a musical prodigy. So he forbids his wife to talk to her or play anything but approved music to her. Because he is afraid the authorities will take the baby, the child is hidden and when she is older, she is told a frightening tale that keeps her inside, out of sight.
This goes out the window when their grown son, Jerry, discovers the baby. Suddenly, there is talk, and unapproved music. But no school or contact outside the family. No one else knows Theres is there.
To say that Theres is odd, well, is putting it mildly. She gets near puberty and kills the musician and his wife. Jerry discovers this.
Now does Jerry go to the police? Have this dangerous person put away? No, because he’s afraid he will have trouble because he did not tell them about he girl. So he has his parents’ killer in his home.
Cue the second half of the story. Teresa is an ordinary girl. She’s a little lonely and not in the “in crowd” at her school.
Teresa sees Theres performing on a Swedish talent show. Something clicks. And so on.
Ok. It’s a compelling tale. And one that ought to be scary.
But, it isn’t. The threat of violence is telegraphed early, and the reader knows to look for more. And as good as translations can be, there seems to be a screen between the reader and Lindqvist. It keeps the reader from the oh-God-this could happen-to-us that King books often have.
The story well-plotted, and the reader wants to know what happens next to Theres. Just watch out for Teresa.