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Book Review: Harbor by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Updated on October 6, 2013

Why Read?

If you are ever to pick up a Lindqvist book, you will see many comparisons to Stephen King. I have not read King for several years, so maybe I need to pick up one of his books so I can do my own comparison. Here is what I do know they have in common: they both write horror.

'Harbor' is the third Lindqvist book I have read. 'Let the Right One In is easily one of my favorite books, and I think I may be developing author blindness.

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Basic Info:

Title: Harbor

Author: John Ajvide Lindqvist

Genre: Horror

Page Number: 512

Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books

Release Date: 2008 (Swedish); 2010 (English)

Descriptors: horror, swedish, suspense, superstition, village setting, in depth characters, dark, mystery, missing child, secrets

What do you Read?

How often do you read the Horror Genre?

See results

What they say...

...the back of the book

One ordinary winter afternoon on a snowy island, Anders and Cecilia take their six-year-old daughter Maja across the ice to visit the lighthouse in the middle of the frozen channel. While they are exploring the lighthouse, Maja disappears – either into thin air or under thin ice -- leaving not even a footprint in the snow.

Two years later, Anders, a broken man, moves back to his family’s abandoned home on the island. He soon realizes that Maja's disappearance is only one of many strange occurrences, and that his fellow islanders, including his own grandmother, know a lot more than they’re telling. As he digs deeper, Anders begins to unearth a dark and deadly secret at the heart of this small, seemingly placid town.

-Harbor; can be found on the back of the book or at

Before you Read...

...a little disclaimer from TheCozyDinosaur

Before you pick up ‘Harbor,’ know that this book is a major downer. I don’t mean that in a bad way; lots of wonderful books are downers. What I mean by labeling it a downer is that there is no break from sad, terrible, horrific, or depressing events happening. No comic relief or happiness, just one bad situation after another. Maybe I’m alone in this, but downers are hard to swallow. I need to be reading another book at the same time, or have a quickie ready for me when I finish a downer.

What I say...

All that said, if you’re into horror novels and have not yet read anything by John Ajvide Lindqvist, you’re missing out! A Swedish writer, Lindqvist is becoming more and more popular. He approaches traditional horror elements in a fresh way. (SPOILER) For example, in ‘Harbor,’ he deals with an island where the inhabitants are aware the the sea requires human sacrifices to produce a rich crop of fish. (END SPOILER) Sounds kind of typical, but the story is not, and I won’t give away another thing. He does this in his other books, one dealing with a vampire, the other zombies. Neither are your typical vampire or zombie stories.

Now if you are a hardcore, nothing-can-scare-me type, then this book won’t send you to bed with the lights on. But the way he describes the characters the situation they are forced into will make your skin crawl, at least a little bit. Nobody is the everyday Joe. Everyone has a distinct personality, as well as a back story that adds to the plot and makes things more involved than you originally thought.

I do have a one complaint- for as long and drawn out as the story seemed, things were wrapped up pretty quickly. If you could call it a wrap up- this is one of those use your imagination to decide what happens next. Looking back, the book is filled with quite a bit of relevant information, and maybe it’s the downer side of things that makes it feel drawn out. Maybe it is that the climax comes too late in the book, and is over with no real deescalation. Maybe the point was to end on a high, thrilling note. Any way you look at it, I got to the end, looked up and said, “huh?”, and then reread the last twenty pages.

Ready to Read?


A truly excellent author, gaining popularity in the horror genre. Harbor will keep you wondering what the hec is going on in this small fishing village full of secrets.

Let the Right One In: A Novel
Let the Right One In: A Novel

One of my favorite books of all time, by the same author of Harbor. This one is about a vampire who befriends a boy, and leaves you questioning their friendship.

Handling the Undead
Handling the Undead

A unique take on the zombie story, Lindqvist writes a horror book about the emotional pain the walking dead have on the living.


Book Club

Tell me in the comments, I want to know!

Have you read Harbor, or other John Ajvide Lindqvist books? How would you compare him to Stephen King?

Lindqvist writes powerful characters- who were you most drawn to and why?

Do think you could live on small fishing village, on an island? How does this small community add to the story?

What are your thoughts on the ending? Were you satisfied with the strange turn and explanation of events?

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    • TheCozyDinosaur profile image

      TheCozyDinosaur 3 years ago

      @anonymous: Maybe on a bright summer day :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      oh so scary... coupled with emotional exhausting this might not be a good time to read it now

    • TheCozyDinosaur profile image

      TheCozyDinosaur 3 years ago

      @MarathonRunning: Emotionally exhausting, the perfect phrase for this book! I'm glad I could introduce you to this author, you will enjoy his books.

    • MarathonRunning profile image

      Martina 3 years ago from Croatia, Europe

      Great review!

      I will pass on this book now because it sounds emotional exhausting. I have never read anything of the mentioned author, but I did some King stories.

    • TheCozyDinosaur profile image

      TheCozyDinosaur 3 years ago

      @Elsie Hagley: Well, in a way it's a happy ending... but the feel throughout reading really brings me down. Which could also be the sign of a good book, when it makes you feel an emotion so strongly. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 3 years ago from New Zealand

      This is a great review, I like the bit, warning us that it's a downer, I am not fond of very sad stories, I prefer happy occasion now and then.