Review: Let the Old Dreams Die by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Reviewed by Emma Whitehall

As a fan of both supernatural fiction and short stories, I have never been so excited for a release as when I discovered that John Ajvide Lindqvist – author of one of my favorite novels, the chillingly beautiful Let The Right One In – was releasing a new collection called Let the Old Dreams Die.

What leaps out at you about Lindqvist’s work is that it is unapologetically Swedish. There is no way audiences could assume these stories took place in some vague part of America; the default horror landscape. The best example in the collection is “Border.” A lot of non-Swedish readers will be savvy when faced with clues leading up to a vampire or a werewolf, but the use of myths that have not translated into mainstream fantasy or horror makes this story all the stranger.

The stories are beautiful in that twisted way that only horror fiction can be beautiful. Lindqvist’s work has the most impact when he explores two fundamental parts of human emotion: love and death. This is what makes the story “Eternal/Love” – where a couple battles with the idea of death coming between them, in more ways than one – so effective. Lindqvist’s fleshed-out characters and original, impossibly dark situations mesh perfectly to form a sickening, tragic story.

Of course, no collection can be perfect. “Substitutes” has a really interesting idea at its core, but is far too vague and meandering to keep my attention, and even the author himself admits he is the only person who likes “To Hold You While the Music Plays,” but they are still worth the time it takes to read them. They aren’t brilliant, but they are still fascinating.

On the whole, this is Lindqvist at his best – discussing love, fear, darkness, and the terrible, beautiful, insane things it drives people to do.

emma-whitehallEmma Whitehall is a writer and spoken-word performer based in the North East of England. Her work focuses around horror, erotica and dark fantasy, and has been featured in print on both sides of the Atlantic; her paranormal love story, “Waiting,” was translated into Spanish, and her short story, “Shed,” was featured in a charity anthology for the American independent publishing company Hazardous Press. She has released two self-published collections of stories and poetry: Kallisto’s Tales in 2012, and Dust Motes and Faded Green Velvet in 2014. Both can be purchased from lulu.com or amazon.co.uk.