I Always Find You by John Ajvide Lindqvist

I alwaysI Always Find You is such a strange book to review.  It evoked so many emotions as I was reading it that my thoughts are a hot jumbled mess and to be totally frank I’m not convinced even at this point, that I enjoyed it. In fact, it’s not a book that you enjoy – absolutely not – it’s more like a book that compels you to read on even if you feel horrified, creeped out or just downright repulsed.  You simply have to read on.  It’s like a hideous trainwreck that you can’t tear your eyes away from.  Anyway… I’ve cut and paste the blurb for the book below – I don’t think I’ll attempt to outline the plot but more explore my feelings and thoughts.  So:

‘In September 1985, nineteen-year-old John Lindqvist moves into a dilapidated old building in Stockholm, planning to make his living as a magician. Something strange is going on in the building’s basement – and the price of entry is just a little blood.

I Always Find You is a horror story – as bizarre and macabre as any of Lindqvist’s bestselling novels. It’s also a book about being young and lonely, about making friends and growing up. It’s about magic, and the intensity of human connection – and a society’s communal responsibility for a devastating act of political violence.’

This is undoubtedly going to be a splurge of ideas and emotions so bear with me.

The story starts out like an exploration of loneliness.  JL rents an apartment that is little more than a concrete box.  He is living in complete dire straits with very little money.  He doesn’t know anybody and dreams of becoming a magician and finding his fortunes that way.  He’s a difficult character to like in some respects, or, at least he’s a character that you find yourself going from feeling sympathy for to eventually kind of disliking as his actions spiral out of control, and yet in spite of that I still did want to be on his side.  He feels like his actions have gotten away from him somehow but there’s still goodness inside – it’s just been poisoned a little by events.  Strangely enough, the other residents seem to be living similarly lonely existences.  Lots of lonely people, locked away in their little concrete boxes, isolated and unhappy – all mixed in with a period of political unrest when people feel cheated somehow.  At the same time we are given a back story from JL’s childhood in which he meets a young boy.  I’m not going to give anything away here because I found this story really creepy and so think you should read it without any prior knowledge.  Whilst this element feels oddly disconnected at first this isn’t the case and both stories are in fact related.

The first thing that really stood out for me was a feeling of confusion.  Is any of this actually based on real events?  Don’t get me wrong – I’m not talking about the horror elements because those definitely come from the land of fiction – at least I hope they do!  But, and this is why I had the confusion, there are elements of this story where you can really see the inspiration for the other JL stories.  Clearly this is an author with a very vivid imagination and an ability to take the simplest of things and create a horror scene – for example the ‘tunnel’ that is featured in the book.  It feels insidiously creepy and it’s the sort of place that most people would feel wary of. It’s a great example of letting your imagination run riot.  But then there’s elements of the story such as the loneliness, the unhappiness the failed relationship, the stealing, etc – are these also imaginary.  I would say that some of these are real experiences and they’re mixed into the story in such a realistic way that the result makes it impossible to separate fact from fiction – hence confusion.

Then there’s the other residents.  All of them eventually congregate around the shower block/washroom where something decidedly odd is taking place.  The horror element here is a strange creeping weirdness.  Something that is paid for in blood and that takes people into what becomes known as the ‘other’.  The ‘other’ feels like a bizarre space where people’s imagination runs riot, their inhibitions are squashed and it’s almost like they become a massive exaggeration of themselves somehow.  More than that though it becomes an obsession for all of them, and obsessions are never a good thing.  Those obsessions eventually leads to a general feeling of apathy with real life compared to the escapism and freedom felt when transported to the ‘other’.  Now imagine the desperation when it seems like the ‘other’ is starting to disappear.  Can you go back to normality having experienced this life with no shackles.  No need for politeness.  If you’re a monster then you’re a monster, no explanation necessary – but having released your inner beast can you really put it back again and return to normality?

I sort of wish I’d made more notes now as I was reading because parts of this felt like the personas that the characters take on when in the ‘other’ are a representation of the seven deadly sins.  Gluttony and lust definitely seem to be represented but I’m not so sure about the others.  That’s another of my random thoughts that I just wanted to chuck into the mix.

Then there’s the writing style.  There’s a cold simplicity to the writing, a lack of embellishment and a simple ‘truth’ to it that somehow exacerbates the horror elements.  I distinctly recall at one part of the book being really scared.  I couldn’t stop reading, in fact I was almost afraid to put the book down because I wanted to keep moving forward to see if I could get past the scary elements and find a happier place to latch onto.  At that particular point I thought this was perhaps the scariest thing I’d ever read.  But then the story did move on.  The creep factor seemed to decrease whilst the ick factor increased and I then had a very strong feeling of discomfort.  Some of the scenes are difficult to read about without doubt.  There’s an element of the story that feels like voyeurism and I think I can safely say that if you’re in the least bit squeamish then this will not be the book for you.  Now, obviously I don’t want to over egg the pudding here.  I’m sure there are staunch horror fans out there who will doubtless find this a walk in the park and will wonder what I’m chatting  about – but for me, the strongest feelings that came across during this read were fear followed by discomfort all tied into a story that I couldn’t put down.

I don’t know what else to say really.  Should you read this – not if you’re easily disturbed or don’t want nightmares.  If you’ve read the author before then I think yes.  Particularly, if you’ve read Let the Right One in or I Am Behind You because I think you’ll be able to see the connections.

I’m definitely not sorry I read this.  I’m not sure that I totally understand it.  And, in case I’ve not been clear above, this is a disturbing book and certainly not a popcorn read.  With those provisos in mind don’t say you haven’t been warned.  Pick it up if you dare.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

 

 

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Can’t Wait Wednesday : I Always Find You by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Can't Wait Wednesday

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is: I Always Find You by John Ajvide Lindqvist:

I always find youIn September 1985, nineteen-year-old John Lindqvist moves into a dilapidated old building in Stockholm, planning to make his living as a magician. Something strange is going on in the building’s basement – and the price of entry is just a little blood. I Always Find You is a horror story – as bizarre and macabre as any of Lindqvist’s bestselling novels. It’s also a book about being young and lonely, about making friends and growing up. It’s about magic, and the intensity of human connection – and a society’s communal responsibility for a devastating act of political violence.

Expected publication: September 2018

I Am Behind You (Platserna #1) by John Ajvide Lindqvist

iambehindyouI Am Behind You is the strangest psychological horror that I think I’ve ever read.  Quite an accomplishment really!  Bizarre, creepy, insidious, thought provoking, compelling and  absolutely baffling.  I don’t really know what happened to be honest.  I”m not totally sure how to review the book but I do know that this has kept me thinking for days and I know without doubt that I want to read the next instalment – I simply have to, I need to.  Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the Twilight Zone.

At the start of this story we pretty quickly become aware that overnight four caravans and their occupants have been mysteriously transported from the campsite on which they resided and literally dropped into a never ending field.  The green grass and blue sky stretch as far as the eye can see and an exploration by car just uncovers more of the same.  You’re hooked by that aren’t you – you can’t deny it.  Exactly like I was,  Why were these four families picked up and removed to this strange place?  What’s the connection?  Have they all died overnight and ended up in a hell of their own making?  My mind was simply racing with the need to find out what was actually happening.

So, to the occupants of this unusual territory.  We have four caravans and their occupants.  One, a couple of blokes, friends for many years and maybe with a friendship on the brink of developing into something more – it just needs a nudge.  An unhappily married couple with a young daughter called Molly.  Molly is one of those children that gives you the goosebumps, you can feel a chill on the back of your neck when you’re reading her chapters, as though somebody’s cold breath was on your skin.  We have another couple, they don’t really know each other as well as they could, they have a son called Emil, a shy boy who is a little tied to his mother’s apron strings.  Finally a couple whose family have grown and left the nest, leaving them a little in the land of ‘do we really like each other now we have nothing to occupy us’ territory.  Basically we have this eclectic bunch of characters, thrown together in an unusual and stressful situation and we watch as the cracks begin to show and develop from cracks into deep yawning chasms.

The writing here is so good.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  The author has an excellent way of making his characters come alive in the imagination.  Slowly and surely he develops a picture of all of them and most of them have skeletons in their closets just waiting to jump out.  It’s a fascinating and compelling ride watching all of them as they basically try to hold their sanity together.  To be honest, many of them are not likeable characters and as their pasts are revealed you can’t help but wondering if this is some devilish punishment for past misdemeanours.

In terms of the action.  Well, this is where we really enter the land of bizarre.  Literally, prepare to encounter Darth Vader and his star troopers, an entire class of frantically exercising females, huge, six foot tall rabbits, tigers, zombies and James Stewart.  I kid you not.  Plus looming storm clouds and an horizon that seems to disappear into blackness with who knows what beyond.

I’m not going to deny that this book is unusual.  I also admit that it might not be for everyone.  There are no neat and tidy wrap ups here, no clean cut solutions.  You’re probably not going to have any lightbulb moments and if the thought of reading a book and thinking wtf just happened doesn’t really appeal to you then you might just want to give it a swerve.  Simply put, although I like answers as much as the next person, I found myself totally absorbed and want to read more. I guess I’m hoping for answers eventually but even without them I’m in the zone now.

I received a copy courtesy of the publisher through Netgalley for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

 

 

Waiting on Wednesday : I Am Behind You (Platserna #1) by John Ajvide Lindqvist


“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was created by Breaking the Spine.  Every Wednesday we get to highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  My book this week is :  I Am Behind You (Platserna #1) by John Ajvide Lindqvist.  The Title, the cover and the write up give me the chills – I want this book.

iambehindyouA supernatural superthriller from the author of Let the Right One In

Molly wakes her mother to go to the toilet. The campsite is strangely blank. The toilet block has gone. Everything else has gone too. This is a place with no sun. No god.

Just four families remain. Each has done something to bring them here – each denies they deserve it. Until they see what’s coming over the horizon, moving irrevocably towards them. Their worst mistake. Their darkest fear.

And for just one of them, their homecoming.

This gripping conceptual horror takes you deep into one of the most macabre and unique imaginations writing in the genre. On family, on children, Lindqvist writes in a way that tears the heart and twists the soul. I Am Behind You turns the world upside down and, disturbing, terrifying and shattering by turns, it will suck you in.

Due out September 2017