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*Starred Review* Lindqvist (Let Me In, 2007) makes a series of dauntless leaps and ends up the better for it in this long, fitful work that leaves an impression, despite endeavoring to be as unlikable as possible. In the major story line, a smarmy, abusive former recording artist and his meek wife come upon a peculiar baby, Theres, in the woods. She seems to be pure music her musical ability is innate from infancy and so the couple lock her in the basement and greedily foster her talent. Years later, antisocial loner Theresa finds herself obsessed with Theres' appearance on a TV singing competition and, through kismet, the two become confederates: Theres, the emotional alien, the goddess of music; and Theresa, the devoted acolyte willing to follow her messiah anywhere. ( It would take a knife, a sharp knife to separate them; there would be a whole lot of blood. ) Rather than dive straight into the plotty, gruesome developments of the book's latter half, Lindqvist chews through a couple hundred pages of tracking his oddball protagonists from babyhood to teenhood exhaustive, sometimes unnecessary, but ceaselessly fascinating. It's a confounding novel: irredeemable villains become admirable heroes; major characters are sacrificed in abrupt, shocking ways; and important players pop up late in the game. But it's audacious, to say the least, and spirals toward an ending that is as senseless and brutal as it is weirdly poetic.--Kraus, Daniel Copyright 2010 Booklist
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Lindqvist's third novel released in English (ably translated by Delargy) ignores the supernatural elements of his previous works, instead providing terror via a group of sociopaths and artists. When abusive, washed-up rocker Lennart finds an abandoned baby in the snow, he's taken in by her perfect pitch, and he and his wife, Laila, decide to raise her in secret. Awkward, quiet Theres grows into a listless adolescent, murders Laila and Lennart, and ends up living with her adoptive adult brother, Jerry, himself a former convict charged with assault and robbery. He enters her in a Swedish performance competition, where she catches the attention of another awkward outcast teen, Teresa, and they form a violent partnership. Lindqvist (Harbor) mixes in satire of popular music, multiple character POVs, often biting commentary on teen life, and many sudden and horrific acts. Not everything sticks, but there's enough to make a truly gripping horror novel. Agent: Anneli Hoier, Leonhardt & Hoier Literary Agency. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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If it's true that characterization is the hallmark of excellent fiction, then this novel should have no trouble rising to that level. Lindqvist (Let the Right One In; Handling the Undead: Harbor), whom many are calling the Swedish Stephen King, presents his readers with not one but two female protagonists-Theres and Teresa-following each of them from childhood until the electric moment when they meet as adolescents. Each girl has an unusual history and set of personality traits that launch her toward the gruesome results of the bond they eventually forge. Theres, blessed from birth with a singular musical talent, is abandoned as an infant, then rescued by a middle-aged couple who lock her away in their basement for more than a decade. Teresa grows up with a dark view of life but watching Theres on a broadcast of Idol gives her a glimmer of hope and compels her to reach out to the young singer. What follows, like the climax of King's Carrie, is not for the faint of heart. VERDICT Be sure to recommend this import to all serious horror fans. [See Prepub Alert, 4/9/12.]-Nancy McNicol, Hamden P.L., CT (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.