- I Always Find You.
- John Ajvide Lindqvist.
- 288 pages.
- Horror / Fiction.
- My Rating: It’s OK Book Review.
In September 1985, nineteen-year-old John Lindqvist moves into a dilapidated old building in Stockholm, planning to make his living as a magician. Something strange is going on in the building’s basement – and the price of entry is just a little blood.
I Always Find You is a horror story – as bizarre and macabre as any of Lindqvist’s bestselling novels. It’s also a book about being young and lonely, about making friends and growing up. It’s about magic, and the intensity of human connection – and a society’s communal responsibility for a devastating act of political violence.
I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
I Always Find You is a slow-burning read that is told from the first person perspective. The first person narration gives a personal account of the story as an older Lindqvist recounts the events that transpired during a six month period over thirty years ago in 1985.
In September 1985 nineteen-year-old John Lindqvist moves from Ibsengatan in Blackeberg to a run-down apartment block in Luntmakargatan in Stockholm, Sweden with dreams of earning a living as a magician.
The block that John lives in is dilapidated and in disrepair with one wall backing onto the Brunkeberg tunnel. There are a courtyard and a separate laundry building that features a bath and shower room for the residents to use, as some apartments, like John’s don’t have those amenities.
There are reclusive and secretive neighbours and strange occurrences taking place in the apartment block. John is plagued by anonymous late-night phone calls that keep asking him for the mysterious Sigge. John also feels a building pressure in his head, an unsettling force from the apartment block that pulls him towards the shower room. The force also flows over into adjoining Brunkeberg tunnel whenever he walks through it and he can sense the same strangeness inside the tunnel as in the apartment block.
On investigating the shower room, John sees black slime seeping in through a crack in the ceiling and inhabiting the bathtub. Disgusted by what he sees John refuses to use the shower room but the black substance jogs his memory and reminds him of something similar that he saw in his childhood and locked away.
John starts to write a story about the event from his past, to come to terms with and try and make sense of it. John was a twelve-year-old child and he met an abused younger child near his home in the forest of Blackeberg. It’s an eerie tale and he calls it ‘The Other Place‘.
John tries to escape the pull of the slime but finds his personality changing and becoming darker. After initially being repulsed by the slime he finds himself drawn back towards it, the pull stronger and he is unable to fight its call. Many of the other residents have already succumbed to the slime and what it can offer them and so, John joins them and their group.
The slime is a portal/doorway and all it costs to enter is some blood. The slime transports John (and the others) to a place that is depicted as a field, that allows them to be whoever they want, reveals their innermost desires, shows their true selves and fills the various holes that are present in their everyday lives.
The field, however, is an addiction that bleeds over into reality. John and the others try to replicate the contentment and euphoria that they feel when they are there in the real world but can’t. They spend longer and longer in the field at the cost of more and more blood and at the cost of their sanity as the field consumes their everyday thoughts and lives.
I like answers and explanations in my books and neither are forthcoming in I Always Find You with many questions regarding the slime and its origin being left unanswered. Of course, answers and explanations aren’t always necessary, you can come to your own conclusion, use your imagination and there’s nothing wrong with a sense of mystery either. But, at times, they can be beneficial to a story and, for me, this was one of those times where answers and explanations by the author over certain things would have been appreciated and would have added extra depth to the story.
Disappointingly, I didn’t find I Always Find You scary, at all. It is a solid read that is both atmospheric and dark, I’ll admit that but, for me, it lacked in tension and apart from a couple of disturbingly macabre scenes there was nothing included that made me feel really uncomfortable.
I did find the mid-eighties setting (the politics, the music and the attitudes of the time) to be well-realised by Lindqvist. I enjoyed The Other Place, the macabre tale that John writes as part of the overall story. As a writer, Lindqvist is able to evoke a strong sense of being alone, the feeling of loneliness and the lack of community that draws the group together and makes the field and what it offers so appealing to them all. But, ultimately, I failed to be gripped by I Always Find You.
Purchase I Always Find You.
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