Vampires – but not as we know them

We all know the typical Twilight-esque vampire, all yearning, suppressed sexuality and teenage angst – oh and a little blood lust thrown in.

Then there’s the TV series True Blood, based on the  Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris (which I love) but its sexuality is not at all repressed,  and the blood quota is pretty much up there with Carrie.

I have just discovered (ok, I’m a bit slow sometimes), a whole new twist and I loved it. Let The Right One In is by Swedish novelist John Ajvide Lindqvist. Oskar lives with his mum in a high rise building in the western suburbs of Stockholm. It’s the early eighties and he likes listening to Kiss on his Walkman, solving puzzles – including the Rubik’s cube – and pasting grisly murder stories from the newspaper into his scrapbook.

A young girl his age, Eli, moves in next door and offers him a compelling friendship and help in dealing with school bullies. But Eli is not your typical 12 year old waif, and the story grips you as it is slowly revealed Eli is a vampire. But there is no full-on sexuality, just intensity and not a fang in sight.

Some of the classic concepts of life as a vampire are there: aversion to sunlight, needing to be invited into a home and not just walk in, and the never ending quest for, shall we say, ‘food sources’, but being a vampire is almost a side issue to the emotion and intensity between these two young people, trying to make sense of their worlds as they are. The community around them is horrified by the sudden increase in murders and disapearances that start around the time of Eli’s arrival.