It is not a mystery for anybody reading this blog that I am a fan of Lindqvist. I have reviewed his brilliant “Let the Right One in” a couple of years ago, and I have been looking forward to his next book since then. Now it’s here, and I am not disappointed. At all.
Here’s the blurb: “Four families wake up one morning in their caravans, next to their cars, on an ordinary campsite in southern Sweden. However, during the night something strange has happened. Everything else has disappeared, and the world has been transformed into an endless expanse of grass. The sky is blue, but there is no sign of the sun; there are no trees, no flowers, no birds. And every radio plays nothing but the songs of sixties pop icon Peter Himmelstrand. As the holiday-makers try to come to terms with what has happened, they are forced to confront their deepest fears and secret desires, and in many cases expose the less appealing aspects of their character. Past events that they have tried to bury rise to the surface and take on a terrifying physical form.”
I Am Behind You is an eerie novel, not easily classified under a precise genre. Probably paranormal thriller is what suits best, but only if you add “literary” to the description. And you can certainly read what comes along – visions, deja vu, madness outbursts and so on – under many perspectives, in the best literary tradition. What is certain, the book manages to convey a sense of estrangement that is more upsetting than the single case stories of the characters involved in it. Moreover, from an initial, dream-like atmosphere, we quickly switch to a gruesome, more realistic, nightmare, where things start quickly unravel.
I utterly enjoyed the reading, even though the ending (no spoilers here) left me somehow puzzled, with a few unsolved questions.
Nonetheless, Lindqvist is a damn good thriller writer, one of my favourites. Apparently, I am not the only one to think in this way. Here’s the Guardian: “Nowadays, people call Lindqvist “the Swedish Stephen King”, and in some ways, this is right. Like King, Lindqvist writes about every day, mainly working-class, characters and situations – the school freak, the bullies, the lonely mother, the local drunks. Like King, he is a lovely writer, plain and spare. And as with King, when it works, it works brilliantly, the human and the demonic snapping smartly together, as if they belonged that way all along: he channels the traditional vampire as a sick and desperate child, and presents the Renfield character from Stoker’s Dracula as an agonised paedophile teacher.” [read the whole article here].
I Am Behind You by John Ajvide Lindqvist, 2017. Where I got it: on Netgalley as an ARC, in exchange for an honest review (thank you!)