As soon as I read the description for this book I just had to read it. I love trolls and have always felt drawn to Scandinavian countries, so it promised to be a winner. The opening chapter was fantastic, it really set the scene and I could tell straight away that I was going to get along famously with Spjut’s writing style. He has a way of slipping very normal, trivial observations into the prose to wonderful effect. By doing this he masterfully injects a dose of believability in a tale that’s filled with magical creatures. Hat’s off to him, he totally nailed it. The storytelling was so successfully grounded, I had no problem believing in trolls.
I particularly enjoyed that Spjut doesn’t glamorise the characters. They’re fairly ordinary folk. Nothing outstanding or heroic about any of them. He doesn’t shy away from giving us trivial, yet impacting scene-setting details either – like when the characters have snot on their faces because it’s so damn cold. I guess what I’m trying to say is that he tells it how it is. And I like that.
I also enjoyed discovering things about Swedish culture that I wasn’t otherwise familiar with. I find reading stories which transport me to non-English settings are hugely intriguing and appealing. This was certainly the case with Stallo.
Spjut uses an interesting mix of third person POV and first person POV. This worked well. It was never confusing because the first person POV sections were only ever told from Gudrun’s point of view. It was a refreshing mix which kept the story moving.
Overall I’d give Stallo 4.5*. The only reason it doesn’t get 5* is because I’d have liked more scares. The story was more magical/fantasy-like thriller than straight-up horror.
On a side note, John Ajvide Lindqvist is one of my favourite authors, and now having read Spjut’s work, I feel like I need to read more Swedish horror!