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Not the right one to let in

Re­lease Date: OUT NOW!

587 pages | Pa­per­back/ ebook Au­thor: Ste­fan Spjut Pub­lisher: Faber & Faber

Susso Myrén is a troll­hunter.

Not of the in­ter­net va­ri­ety, though she does run a web­site; Susso is an am­a­teur cryp­to­zo­ol­o­gist, and the trolls she’s in­ter­ested in are the shapeshift­ing crea­tures of Swedish folk­lore. No one takes her se­ri­ously un­til her troll- cam snaps a photo of a weird- look­ing man lurk­ing around the house of an ab­ducted child. Then ev­ery­one’s tak­ing her se­ri­ously – in­clud­ing the kid­nap­pers.

It’s be­ing mar­keted as ideal “for fans of Let The Right One In”, but de­spite a promis­ing set- up, Stallo takes way too long to get go­ing. A miss­ing child ought to pro­vide a kind of tick­ing clock, but there’s no ur­gency to this story; rel­e­vant in­for­ma­tion is doled out one tiny, frus­trat­ing tit­bit at a time, even as en­tire para­graphs are de­voted to de­scrip­tions of char­ac­ters putting on lip balm. It’s a long book, and even the use of mul­ti­ple nar­ra­tors can’t jus­tify the bloated page count. Flashes of clev­er­ness, like the ref­er­ences to real- life fairy­tale il­lus­tra­tor John Bauer, sink hope­lessly into a mire of tedium as char­ac­ters drive from one end of Swe­den to the other, eat­ing break­fast and mak­ing un­funny jokes when they ought to be fo­cus­ing on the mys­tery at hand.

The trolls them­selves are creepy, but they don’t do enough to seem like a gen­uine threat. Slog to the fin­ish, and all you’ll get is an end­ing so in­con­clu­sive it feels like you’re the one who’s just been trolled. Sarah Dobbs In Lapp mythol­ogy, “stal­los” are gi­ant, cruel, peo­ple- eat­ing trolls who can usu­ally be de­feated by a quick- wit­ted hero.

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