Quercus £17.99

Little Star, By John Ajvide Lindqvist

Raised in the dark, powered by vengeance

Thanks to the movie adaptations, John Ajvide Lindqvist will probably always best be known for his debut Let The Right One In, nevertheless he's continued to write edgy, well-crafted horror since that promising start.

This fourth novel is billed as his first non-supernatural take on the genre, and while that's strictly true, there's an eerie, other-worldly feel that lends creeping menace throughout. Little Star shares a central motif with the vampire tale of Lindqvist's debut, in that it revolves around a pair of social outsiders fighting against the perceived injustices of the world.

In this case we have Theres and Teresa, two very different teenage girls who meet and, along with a collection of acolytes, become a dangerous, volatile force. The novel starts with the discovery of Theres as a baby, in the woods and half dead. The middle-aged singer-songwriter who finds her resuscitates her and decides to keep her, much to his wife's dismay. Amid the fear of discovery, they raise her in their basement, and Theres becomes an unearthly child, unemotional and detached from the normal world with one exception – she has a mesmerising, pitch-perfect singing voice. After a catastrophic incident, she is cared for by her adopted brother, given a new identity and gradually assimilated into the world, yet very much still an outsider.

In comparison, Teresa is a very normal picture of teenage female angst. Overweight, unattractive and bullied, she's full of self-loathing and depression until she sees Theres performing on a reality television show. Teresa is hooked, and the two strike up a strange rapport, begin working on music together, and eventually come into contact with a sleazy manager intent on ripping them off. As Theres's fame spreads, she becomes a messiah figure for disenfranchised teenage girls and, along with Teresa, she takes her disciples on a descent into violent revenge.

There's much to admire here, Lindqvist doing a great job of portraying the teenage mindset without resorting to cliché, and his interlinking of the inherent bullying at school with bullying in the wider world is clever without being too obvious.

The early parts of Little Star are overwritten, though, and he sacrifices plot for characterisation a tad too much. Having said that, he builds a palpable sense of terror through the alienation of his main players, and he proves with the apocalyptic ending that he's up there with the best literary horror writers.

Arts and Entertainment
Shades of glory: Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend

Glastonbury Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend will perform with Paul Weller as their warm-up act

Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Arts and Entertainment

Will Poulter will play the shape-shifting monsterfilm
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power