People talk about John Ajvide Lindquist as the next Stephen King, and Little Star proves the comparison runs deep and true. Like many of King's protagonists, Lindquist's characters find themselves worn down by the ordinary miseries of life--plus a few extra.
The novel begins with Lennart and Laila, a Swedish pop duo whose one shot at stardom in the early 1970s fell through, not so coincidentally right around the time their marriage lost steam. Two decades later, Lennart finds an abandoned infant who cries in perfect pitch, with "an E that rang like a bell and made the leaves quiver and the birds fly up from the trees." He bullies Laila into agreeing to raise the child in complete secrecy, so he can cultivate her musical capabilities; that plan will backfire spectacularly. By then, however, their son Jerry has already bonded with "Little One," whom he renames Theres, and continues her illicit training. Meanwhile, Lindquist sidesteps to tell the story of Teresa, an emotionally frustrated young girl who becomes captivated by a girl on the Swedish version of Idol with an amazing voice.
Once Theres and Teresa meet, the darkness rapidly descends. Lindquist eventually abandons the question of a supernatural component to Theres's uncanniness; it's not something he needs to bother with--the psychological horror of her influence is chilling enough. It's hard to tell from the matter-of-fact translation, but maybe it's not far-fetched to read Theres as a parody of Lisbeth Sanders, one that strips away any pretenses of heroism from the violent fantasies and exposes their nihilistic core. --Ron Hogan, founder of Beatrice.com