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Little Star: A Novel

Little Star: A Novel

4.2 7
by John Ajvide Lindqvist

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Reviewers have crowned Lindqvist the heir apparent to Stephen King, and now he officially claims his throne


A man finds a baby in the woods, left for dead. He brings the baby home. The man's son, Jerry, teaches the child music. Deciding he can't let the girl's uncommonly beautiful voice go unheard, Jerry enters her in a singing competition


Reviewers have crowned Lindqvist the heir apparent to Stephen King, and now he officially claims his throne


A man finds a baby in the woods, left for dead. He brings the baby home. The man's son, Jerry, teaches the child music. Deciding he can't let the girl's uncommonly beautiful voice go unheard, Jerry enters her in a singing competition. Miles away another young girl sees the performance on television. When the two girls meet, a terrible force is ignited that catapults this duo to a top spot in the horror Hall of Fame. 

Little Star will scare even the bravest horror reader.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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 Høier, Leonhardt & Høier Literary Agency. (Oct.)
Kirkus Reviews
Another atmospheric neogothic yarn, drenched in Scandinavian anxiety and lots of gore, by horror-meister Lindqvist (Handling the Undead, 2010, etc.). Not overtly creepy at first, at least not in the spine-tingling way of Lindqvist's debut, the great Let Me In (2007), this latest outing takes its time building up a head of steam--or, better, a head of extremely bad vibes. Lennart Cederström, folksinger, musicologist and amateur mycologist, is wandering about in a boreal forest looking for chanterelles, that being the sort of thing one does in a socialist paradise. He finds, instead, a small, shallow grave and inside it, "a baby girl, just a few days or weeks old." Lennart rescues the baby, noting that her crying was like nothing his attentive ears had ever taken in--and pitched at a perfect E, "an E that rang like a bell and made the leaves quiver and the birds fly up from the trees." You'll be forgiven for wanting to tell Lennart, right now, to run away, since a baby so vocally equipped is likely to have other eldritch powers; but he does not run, and instead, he hides the baby away in the depths of his well-oiled and well-scrubbed apartment, where he lives with his dissatisfied, adulterous wife. They have a creepy kid already, but he's been living away from home for years. "At some point during Jerry's worst years, Lennart had wished his son dead," Lindqvist writes, meaningfully. When the mayhem begins and the blood starts spurting, things do indeed move in fatal directions. But there's more than mere mass murder in these pages; in between spasms of the supernatural, Lindqvist charts the parallel transformation of a lonely teenage girl whom Theres, now a singing sensation, has taken it upon herself to protect. Teenage angst, psychopathy, Eurovision and wild wolves: What more could you want? The story is complicated, and it doesn't always add up. When it does, though, it's enough to make you put your fingers over your eyes. Good, spooky fun.
From the Publisher

“Dubbed the Stephen King of Sweden, Lindqvist ("Let the Right One In") lives up to the billing with a chilling tale of two teenage girls who team up as a terrifying singing duo bent on revenge against anyone who has ever crossed them.” —New York Post, "Required Reading"

“Brilliant...A future horror classic and a firm pronouncement that John Ajvide Lindqvist is a force to reckoned with.” —MTV.com

“Both [Stephen] King and Lindqvist create rich, memorable characters that quickly endear themselves to the reader.... Lindqvist's shocks are as unpredictable and organic as life itself, to the point where you feel that divulging even the barest plotline to others would betray the wicked-sweet moments that he's so carefully orchestrated.” —BloodyDisgusting.com

“Lindqvist makes a series of dauntless leaps and ends up the better for it in this long, fitful work that leaves an impression...Audacious, to say the least, and spirals toward an ending that is as senseless and brutal as it is weirdly poetic.” —Booklist (starred)

“As keen as the edge of a broken glass . . . This is best read with the lights on.” —The Wharf (UK)

“Exerts a powerful grip.” —Christopher Fowler, Financial Times (UK)

“Sweden's answer to Stephen King.” —Daily Mirror (UK)

“One of the hottest writers in the horror genre.” —Mystery Scene

“The third consecutive masterpiece for an author who deserves to be as much of a household name as Stephen King.” —SFX.co.uk

“A very scary tale indeed from a writer who is master of his genre.” —Financial Times (UK)

“Lindqvist gives Stephen King and John Saul at their best a run for the money.” —Library Journal (starred)

“Sophisticated horror that takes the genre to new and exciting levels.” —Suspense Magazine

“It is easy to compare Lindqvist to Clive Barker or Neil Gaiman.” —Dagens Noeringsliv (Norway)

“Reminiscent of Stephen King at his best.” —Independent on Sunday (UK)

Library Journal
Lindqvist's Let the Right One In was made into an award-winning Swedish film whose American remake, Let Me In, was called the best American horror film in 20 years by Stephen King. Fans will seek out his latest, about an encounter between two girls—one abandoned as a baby—that stirs up evil.

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
6.56(w) x 9.34(h) x 1.68(d)

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Read an Excerpt

Little Star



In the autumn of 1992 there were rumours of a mushroom glut in the forests; it was said that the warm moist weather of late summer had provoked a burst of chanterelles and hedgehog mushrooms. As Lennart Cederström turned off onto the forest track in his Volvo 240, he had a large basket and a couple of plastic bags on the back seat. Just in case.

He had a mix tape of pop hits on the stereo, and Christer Sjögren's voice was loud and clear in the speakers: Ten thousand red roses I'd like to give you...

Lennart grinned scornfully and joined in with the chorus, imitating Sjögren's mannered bass vibrato. It sounded excellent. Almost identical; Lennart was probably a better singer than Sjögren. But so what? He had been in the wrong place at the wrong time on too many occasions, seen too many golden opportunities snatched away from under his very nose or heard them zip past behind his back. Gone when he turned around.

Anyway. He would have his mushrooms. Chanterelles, the gold of the forest, and plenty of them. Then back home to blanch them and fill up the freezer, giving him enough for mushrooms on toast and beer every single evening until the Christmas tree was thrown out. Several days of rain had given way to a couple of days of brilliant sunshine, and the conditions were just perfect.

Lennart knew every bend in the forest track, and he screwed up his eyes and gripped the wheel as he sang.

Ten thousand roses in a pretty bouquet....

When he opened his eyes there was something black on the track ahead of him. Sunlight flashed on shining metal, and Lennart only just managed to swerve as it flashed by. A car. Lennart glanced in the rear view mirror to get the registration, but the car was doing at least eighty on the gravel track, sending up clouds of dust in its wake. However, Lennart was pretty sure it was a BMW. A black BMW with tinted windows.

He drove another three hundred metres to the place where he usually parked, switched off the engine and let out a long breath.

What the hell was that?

A BMW out here in the middle of nowhere wasn't exactly a common sight. A BMW doing eighty along the gravel track leading out of the forest was a unique event. Lennart felt quite excited. He had been a part of something. In the moment when the black object came hurtling towards him, his heart had leapt and then quailed as if anticipating a fatal blow, before opening up and settling down once more. It was an experience.

The only thing that bothered him was that he couldn't report the driver. He would probably have given the mushroom picking a miss so he could savour going home and calling the police, giving a detailed description of the encounter on a track with a thirty kilometres per hour limit. But without a registration number, it would be pointless.

As Lennart got out of the car and picked up his basket and his bags, the temporary rush gave way to a feeling he'd been bested. Again. The black BMW had won, in some obscure fashion. Perhaps it would have been different if the car had been a beaten-up old Saab, but it was definitely a rich man's car that had covered his windscreen in dust and forced him into the ditch. Same old thing.

He slammed the car door and tramped off into the forest, head down. Fresh tyre tracks ran along the damp ground in the shade of the trees. Churned-up mud in one place indicated that a car had shot away here, and it wasn't much of a leap to assume it was the BMW. Lennart gazed at the wide wheel marks as if they might offer himsome evidence, or a fresh grievance. When nothing occurred to him he spat in the tracks instead.

Let it go.

He strode off into the forest, inhaling the aroma of warm needles, damp moss, and somewhere beneath everything else...the smell of mushrooms. He couldn't pin it down to an exact spot, or identify a species, but a faint undertone in the usual scent of the forest told him the rumours were true: there were mushrooms here just waiting to be picked. His gaze swept the ground, searching for a difference in colour or shape. He was a good mushroomer, able to spot from a considerable distance a chanterelle hiding beneath undergrowth and grass. The slightest nuance in the correct shade of yellow, and he swooped like a hawk.

But this time it was a champignon he spotted. Ten metres away from him, a white button sticking up out of the ground. Lennart frowned. He had never come across a champignon around here before; the soil was wrong.

As he came closer, he saw he was right. Not a mushroom; the corner of a plastic bag. Lennart sighed. Sometimes people who were too idle to drive to the tip dumped stuff in the forest. He had once seen a guy hurl a microwave out of his car window. On that occasion he had made a note of the registration number and reported the incident in writing.

He was about to head off along his normal route, searching out the good mushroom places, when he noticed that the plastic bag was moving. He stopped. The bag moved again. It should have been something to do with the wind. That would have been best. But there wasn't a breath of wind among the tree trunks.

Not good.

He heard a faint rustling noise as the piece of plastic shifted again, and all of a sudden his legs felt heavy. The forest surrounded him, silent and indifferent, and he was all alone in the world with whatever was in the plastic bag. Lennart swallowed, his throat dry, and moved forward a few steps. The bag was motionless now.

Go home. Ignore it.

He didn't want to see an old dog that had almost but not quite been put out of its misery, or a pile of kittens whose skulls had almost but not quite been smashed. He didn't want to know about anything like that.

So it wasn't a sense of responsibility or sympathy that drove him on towards the bit of plastic sticking up from the ground. It was ordinary human or inhuman curiosity. He just had to know, or that waving white flag would torment him until he came back to find out what he had missed.

He grabbed hold of the piece of plastic and instantly recoiled, his hands flying to his mouth. There was something inside the bag, something that had responded to his grip, something that felt like muscles, like flesh. The earth around the bag had recently been disturbed.

A grave. A little grave.

The thought took flight and suddenly Lennart knew exactly what had responded to his hand. Another hand. A very small hand. Lennart edged back to the bag and began to clear away the earth. It didn't take long; the soil had been thrown carelessly over the bag, probably by someone without any tools, and in ten seconds Lennart had freed the bag and pulled it out of the hole.

The handles were tied together and Lennart ripped at the plastic to let in air, let in life. He managed to tear a hole in the bag, and saw blue skin. A tiny leg, a sunken chest. A girl. A baby girl, just a few days or weeks old. She wasn't moving. The thin lips were pressed together, as if defying an evil world. Lennart had witnessed the child's death throes.

He placed his ear to the child's chest and thought he could hear the faintest echo of a heartbeat. He pinched the child's nose between his thumb and forefinger, and took a deep breath. He pursed his lips to send a blast of air into the tiny mouth; he didn't even need to take another breath in order to fill the little lungs once more. The air bubbled out, and the chest was still.

Lennart took another breath and as he sent the second puff down into the lungs, there it was. A shudder went through the tiny bodyand white foam was coughed up. Then a scream sliced through the silence of the forest and started time ticking once more.

The child screamed and screamed, and its crying sounded like nothing Lennart had ever heard before. It wasn't broken or plaintive. It was a single, clear, pure note, emerging from that neglected body. Lennart had a good ear, and he didn't need a tuning fork to tell him that it was an E. An E that rang like a bell and made the leaves quiver and the birds fly up from the trees.

LITTLE STAR. Copyright © 2010 by John Ajvide Lindqvist. Translation copyright © 2011 by Marlaine Delargy. All rights reserved. For information, address St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.

Meet the Author

JOHN AJVIDE LINDQVIST is the author of Let the Right One In, Handling the Undead, and Harbor. Let the Right One In has been made into two critically acclaimed films. The Swedish film was directed by Tomas Alfredson (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy) and won top honors at sixteen film festivals around the globe. The American remake of the Swedish movie, entitled Let Me In, received rave reviews. Stephen King called the film, "A genre-busting triumph. Not just a horror film, but the best American horror film in the last twenty years."

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Little Star: A Novel 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Spaztic4 More than 1 year ago
His best work yet. Huge fan of this writer. Tells a story about two girls who are very different. This is such a minD blow. Love this novel. My favorite horror 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I agree with a previous reviewer that this book was amazing and left me feeling extremely unsettled. This was very different from any other novel I've read including ones by the same author. I highly recommend this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
No black and white characters here; all grey. Spooky and delicious.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So unlike "LET THE RIGHT ONE IN" this story lacks the supernatural element...however the real evil is much scarier than vampires and zombies. There is a common theme and that would have to be "dont underestimate the power of the alienated" this book actually creeped me out more than his previous writtings, and the two main charecters took on a familiar dynamic that reminded me of Tyler Durden and the unamed from Fight Club. It starts slow ad does tend to lull in the middle, but if you can stay with it the end is worth it.
jenneyrae More than 1 year ago
I love this author
wrobocop More than 1 year ago
Got sucked into reading this book because of the reference to Stephen King. This guy is NO Stephen King! None of the characters were likable. The plot dragged. THe adults were useless. Jerry was stupid for naming his "sister" There's and suddenly he finds love at the end of the book and all but ignores his sister? ANd Theresa's parents who seemed normal at the beginning turned into people who all but ignored there daughter. I think the author just tried to put TOO much into the plot especially toward the end with the burials and it just didn't work. I felt little sympathy/empathy for the girls. I'll stick with Stephen King!