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Låt den rätte komma in (Let The Right One In) is a 2004 horror novel by Swedish author John Ajvide Lindqvist. It's the story of Oskar, a 12-year-old boy who is being bullied at school. One night, he meets Eli, a girl who just moved in next door with her dad. However, Eli isn't affected by the cold and weirdly isn't sighted in the daytime. Meanwhile said "dad" Håkan is revealed to be out murdering people to drain their blood for some reason. As Oskar befriends Eli the truth to come out. It's part of a love story mixed into a horror story with plenty of blood to flow from there.

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Let The Right One In is most notable for being simultaneously heartwarming and horrifying. Although it has few outright scares, it can be a deeply disturbing movie, as the main characters' relationship invokes both young love and a temptation into darkness.

For tropes on the Swedish film see, Let the Right One In. For tropes from the English-language, remake see Let Me In.


This book provide examples of:

  • Actually Pretty Funny: Played for Drama near the end of the novel. Eli bursts out laughing when Håkan, now a mangled, feral, undead monstrosity, begins furiously masturbating at the sight of him. Eli is so distracted by the sheer absurdity of what he's seeing that he doesn't have time to react when Håkan abruptly smashes him across the head and enters the room uninvited.
  • The Aggressive Drug Dealer: The pimp who offers Håkan a child prostitute early on in the story. He starts bugging him about it seemingly out of nowhere in a public library, with Håkan blatantly pretending to ignore him at first.
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  • Alas, Poor Villain: Hakan might be the only time in movie history where you could cry for the death of a serial-killing pedophile, holding a sobbing Eli in his arms and letting her feed on him before falling out the hospital window to his death. Especially considering what he does to his face to keep Eli safe beforehand.
  • The Alcoholic: Oskar's dad, adding to the guy's overall misery.
  • Alien Geometries: In one scene Lacke complains that someone must have used faulty rulers or something when constructing the council estates they live in, that the angles of the houses aren't right. A later short story by JAL reveals that this is caused by a monster.
  • Aliens in Cardiff: Vampires in a Stockholm suburb.
  • Ambiguously Gay: To say nothing of Oskar himself, who, when Eli tells him she's not a girl, merely shrugs it off. In a sense, she/he's right. In the book, Eli being a male is initially harder for him to accept than being a vampire and it makes him question his sexuality as a result.
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  • Animal Reaction Shot: Used for humerous affect, when the cops can't find Håkan in his undead state, a squirrel happens to be the one to see him. Even without anthropomorphic characterization it is clear the squirrel has no clue what in the world its looking at.
  • Apologetic Attacker: Håkan in the book apologizes for killing his victims and gives out money to assuage his guilt over his actions.
    • Lacke as well when he attempts to try to kill Eli and fails because she still looks like a child.
  • Attempted Rape: Håkan becomes a braindead zombie and tries to rape Eli.
  • Battle Discretion Shot: The climax at the pool is not diectly described on page except for a few witness statements repeated about how Eli slaughters all of the bullies. See Gory Discretion Shot.
  • Being Evil Sucks: Håkan, in his weaker moments. Eli is also revealed to feel this way about her existence and the carnage it requires her to leave behind. The sole other vampire Eli had encountered in the past two hundred years claimed that their kind are so few because they tend to kill themselves out of guilt.
  • Berserk Button: Don't mess with a vampire's best friend. The bullies at the end learn the hard way.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Staffan (a character in the novel) is pretty clearly implied to have anger issues.
  • Big Bad: Jonny serves as Oskar's main tormenter even though others also take on roles throughout.
  • Bigger Bad: In Let The Right One In in Eli's origin story it turns out that a pedophile vampire reigned over Eli's village. He abducted Eli and several other children from their families, before sexually torturing them and possibly turning them.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Just as Oskar's in the process of drowning, Eli shows up to tear apart the guy holding him under the water. Yeah, it's that kind of story.
  • Blood from Every Orifice: What happens if Eli enters a place without being invited.
  • Blood Oath: Oskar cuts his hand and suggests this to Eli. Eli, being a vampire, takes it somewhat less than calmly.
  • Boy Meets Ghoul: A charming story where the bullied boy with an interest in serial killers meets a charming castrated vampire when he/she moves in next door.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: Tommy shits himself while locked in a basement with Hakan, who at this point is now a zombie. In the remake, the bullies attack Owen until he wets himself.
  • Bully Brutality: The bullies that harass Oskar and end up almost drowning him.
  • Chekhov's Gun Trophy: In the novel, Staffan's gun trophy is later used to bludgeon Håkan.
  • Children Are Innocent: Averted in the novel, in that while Oskar stabs trees with a knife to take out his anger, shoplifts and has an obsession with serial killers, and sets fire to the school, the bullies do horrible things such as threaten to throw him on railway tracks (in plain view of the public!) and drown him, and that other guy is a glue sniffing, shop lifting, porn magazine reader.
    • Hellishly averted during that book-only scene in the public library with a teen bringing in a younger child who has had his teeth knocked out for certain tasks.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: Oddly heartwarming. Kind of.
  • Crazy Cat Lady: Gösta. In the book, he has more than two dozen cats locked in his apartment. Since none of them have been neutered and no fresh genetic material has entered the roost in quite a while... well, you won't have to use your imagination, because the book enjoys elaborating on the consequences.
  • Creepy Child: Eli consistently through the book.
    • Oskar was pretty damn creepy all the way through, and got less creepy as the plot progressed (he lost his obsession with serial killers for one thing, and stopped pissing himself).
  • Dark Secret: The audience knows that Eli is a vampire the entire time; Oskar finds out eventually. Stemming from this, Eli tries to hide the more gruesome aspects of her affliction from her new friend (such as what happens when she enters a house without permission, and what she does while sleeping/recuperating in the bathroom), but Oskar deals with each in turn. She also hides her true gender for a while, but this is more because Eli isn't sure whether Oskar will still like her if he knows.
  • Deader Than Dead: Håkan survives quite a bit before finally dying. He pours hydrochloric acid over his face, later tries to pull out his air tube, has some of his blood drained by Eli, falls out a window from a few stories up and lands rather... messily. When he finally does get killed pulpified, he's still twitching a little after over 270 hits with the base from a trophy.
  • Death Seeker: Virginia is turned into this after being bitten by Eli, telling Lacke that she wants to die, and telling him to open the blinds, in order to make her burst into flames. When he won't do it. She gets a nurse to.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: There is a sliding scale of this throughout the bullying plot. Jonny reguarly torments Oskar. When Jonny wanted to throw Oskar into an ice hole, Oskar hits him with a stick that splits his ear. At first Jonny backs off for a while, until he and his friend try to nearly throw Oskar into a path on an oncoming train. Oskar returns the favor by going to the school after dark and sets both of their desks on fire. Because Jonny kept one of the only items he and his brother had of their father in that desk, the two decide to possibly drown him.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Eli goes barefoot at times where it wouldn't make sense for a normal human to do so.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Oskar. When he's introduced, he's suffering from bullying, and Eli encourages him to stand up for himself which leads to him taking weight-training classes and ultimately smacking one of the bullies with a stick and splitting their ear.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: Jimmy, the older brother of Jonny in this version, who is more sadistic and eager to kill Oskar.
  • Driven to Suicide: We are told this is what happens to most vampires. We're shown it with Virginia and Håkan, though the latter isn't quite successful. (In the films, Håkan doesn't become a vampire.)
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: Eli's not a girl.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Eli is one thanks to the effects of vampirism.
  • Enemy to All Living Things:
    • One possible interpretation of the reaction of the cats to Eli and other vampires.
    • Oskar describes the feeling upon seeing Eli's "bloodthirsty" face as the same natural fear everyone has of fire or sharp objects.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Oskar to Eli, if you consider Eli evil. Certainly Eli to Håkan, and Jonny and Jimmy to each other.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Oskar is thrown into the pool by Jonny's Ax-Crazy older brother Jimmy. Oskar is then told that if he can't hold his breath underwater for three minutes, his eye will be gouged out. Even the lackeys are repulsed by this idea.
    • Zigzagged with Håkan. He's a Reluctant Monster who hates what he brings himself to do, but does it nonetheless. His major Pet the Dog moment — calling off sex with a child prostitute and giving him an excessive amount of money — is of course downplayed by the fact that he put himself in that situation to begin with.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Cats detect and viciously attack vampires on sight.
  • Eye Scream: Oskar is faced with this possibility as one of the outcomes of the example of Sadistic Choice below.
  • Facial Horror: Håkan/Thomas after he pours hydrochloric/sulfuric acid on his face to disfigure him well enough to be non-detectable by the cops. And yes, we get to read the description several times which includes only having one eye, no lips, a hole where his nose used to be, among others.
  • First Kiss: Oskar's gets his first kiss from Eli when they are alone together.
  • Foreshadowing: Håkan's sexual preference for boys at first seems at odds with his intense sexual fixation on Eli, but makes more sense after The Reveal.
    • Early on, Eli tells Oskar that she'll take care of his bullies if he can't stand up to them on his own.
  • Fourth Date Marriage: Kind of. Oskar and Eli have multiple short encounters talking to one another before the heavy vampire stuff comes out and some of them aren't fully on page. The way it is presented it will invoke this trope though. True, they're twelve, but they are meant to be soul mates.
  • Fragile Flower: Micke, which separates him from the other bullies in that he seems very disgusted with what he's doing to Oskar.
  • Game Face: Downplayed in Let the Right One In; Eli looks ... older when the Horror Hunger grabs her.
  • Gang of Bullies: Oskar is regularly tormented by one.
  • Gilligan Cut: Eli tries eating a piece of candy. Cut to Eli upchucking it behind a building.
  • The Glomp: Oskar's first hug nearly knocks over the unsuspecting Eli.
  • Grey and Grey Morality: Just about every nameable character in this book has flaws and do something at at least one point a Moral Guardian would have a freak out over. However most of them also have some kind of Pet the Dog moment that proves there is more depth to them in how they think.
  • Harmful to Minors: Oskar's mom has this attitude about trying to protect her son from many of life's sitations.
  • Heel Realization: Micke in the novel who gets cold feet during the climax. Micke is even the one who lets Eli in to take care of business; he is rewarded by being the Sole Survivor of Eli's massacre.
  • Hellish Pupils: Vampires sometimes have slit pupils.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Hakan pours acid on his face to keep the cops from IDing him and going after Eli. Unfortunately, he survives.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Jocke and Lacke. "I have nothing left now he's gone" says Lacke after Jocke's death, even though his girlfriend, whom he loves, is sitting next to him.
  • I Do Not Drink Wine: Eli declines when Oskar offers her/him some candy, and when Oskar asks, "Don't you eat candy?" answers, "I can't."
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Even with the super-strength, being a vampire SUCKS.
  • Implacable Man: Zombie Håkan in the novel.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Håkan. He isn't awfully good at what he does and gets no respect for it. A strange example as his incompetence seems to make him creepier.
  • Infant Immortality: Very much averted in the pool scene, that leaves a 12-year-old torn to pieces.
  • Intertwined Fingers: Eli does this with Oskar in the scene where they cuddle in bed together and he asks her to be his girlfriend.
  • Karma Houdini: Tomas in the novel. While Jonny is Oskar's main tormentor, Tomas is the cruellest and the one Oskar seems to hate the most. But because he's absent from Jonny and Jimmy's stint at the swimming pool at the climax, he escapes death at Eli's hands. Also, Eli and Oskar both escape without complication to make a new life together.
  • Kids Are Cruel: The bullies. And then far, far more, in the bullies' punishment.
  • Lampshade Hanging: In the book, a policeman muses on the religious symbolism of the name Eli. The other policeman responds "Should I include that in the report?"
  • Lesbian Vampire: A strange Gender Flipped/inverted example: Eli was born a boy and has an interest in another boy. However because his "change" wasn't on his own choosing Eli may place themselves anywhere from a transgender vampire to non-conforming body mod vampire.
  • Little Miss Badass: Eli's vampire powers let her easily take down men twice her size.
  • Lost in Translation: A mild sort. In the original Swedish text, scenes from Eli's and Håkan's perspective avoid any gender pronouns when describing Eli until The Reveal that she is in fact a boy. In the English translation, Eli is referred to as "she".
    • The title also has an untranslatable hint; The word "rätte" (meaning right) is masculine. The feminine form would be "rätta". The feminine is the default and as such far more common, so there's no way the word would be masculine unless it specifically referred to a dude.
  • Lower-Class Lout: It's set in a poor suburb, so almost everyone is working class. Several of the bullies have male names ending in -y, a pretty strong working class indicator in Swedish. Subverted with Lacke, an unemployed alcoholic who nevertheless becomes the Hero Antagonist of the story.
  • Man on Fire: Virginia bursts into flames when the blinds are opened.
    • The woman Eli attacks after Håkan doesn't return from the pool mission also becomes one of these when she tries to leave the house.
  • Misplaced Kindergarten Teacher: Mr Avila is completely out of his depth when it comes to recognizing or doing something about the bullying happening on his watch. The fact that his pupils seem to view him as a Funny Foreigner doesn't help.
  • Mood Whiplash: Switches between sweet and scary at the drop of a hat, sometimes mixing both in one scene.
  • Must Be Invited: It's in the title. As Eli demonstrates in response to Oskar's query, if they don't get one... things get pretty messy. Also in this story it is an invitation for each entrance. When Eli doesn't come in the front door Oskar asks why because he already gave Eli permission to enter through his window. This being a separate entrance Eli needs another invitation.
  • Neck Snap: Eli snaps Jocke's neck after attacking him.
  • Non-Human Lover Reveal: In an odd puppy-love sort of way. Maybe.
  • Not Growing Up Sucks: Eli is a 200-year-old vampire stuck physically, and to an extent mentally, as a 12-year-old after being 'turned' at about that age.
  • Not So Different: Eli and Oskar have a conversation over this. Eli reminds Oskar the very first thing he/she heard say was Oskar rehearsing potentially murdering his bullies. Oskar defends by saying he actually isn't a murderer but Eli has him admit he would if he could in order to get even. Eli however sees it as he/she has to murder to survive as he/she wants to live. He/she asks him to "be me a little" in a both literal and metaphorical moment where she shows him memories of how this started. In the end both clearly get on the same page to be a couple.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: Eli is somewhat in denial about being a vampire, preferring to think of it as having an illness. The book does go into the biological specifics of what goes on inside a vampire's body once infected, but being infected with vampirism still unavoidably makes you a vampire.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Considering how much you might hate the bullies by the end of the story, it almost seems a shame for their comeuppance to happen off-page. In the book we don't even see it from Oskar's point of view; we cut from Eli arriving to the policeman mulling over the witness statements he's heard.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: These vampires aren't actually undead it's made clear you have to survive the attack to turn into a vampire. Killing your victim is the nicer option. To be specific, along with the common death-by-sunlight, paleness, blood-drinking attributes, these vampires hibernate, cannot enter a house without getting permission, occasionally have cat-like eyes that glow in the dark, can "think" claws on their hands and feet, and wings and fangs, transfer memories via kiss, and have a second brain growing on their hearts which serves as a second conscious warning them of what to be afraid of and driving them to drink blood.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: They are referred to as "undead", and become as such by being bitten and completely drained of blood by a vampire. Upon reanimation, they retain some sort of instinct from their past life, although for the most part, they are little more than mindless, rotting monsters, albeit ones that are difficult to kill. Assuming though the sunlight part would still do the trick as during the manhunt for him he seemingly hid it out underground in a badger den.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: The bullies deserved everything Eli did to them, and it wasn't pretty. They went to the pool with the intention of either mutilating or drowning Oskar. They had no idea they'd never leave.
  • Pedo Hunt: Håkan is a pedophile who has become a vagrant after being fired from his teaching job after his possession of child pornography was discovered. He's portrayed more sympathetically than one might expect as feels guilt over his urges; part of his attraction to Eli is that he doesn't feel like a child molester around her since she's technically much older than he is.
  • Pet the Dog: Frequently back and forth between Eli and Oskar. Considering what she is, the bond between them is genuinely touching as each grows to care about the other.
  • Protagonist Centred Morality: We're clearly meant to root for Eli and Oskar, despite the fact that the former spends the movie murdering perfectly innocent people, and the latter is perfectly okay with her doing so because she's nice to him.
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain: The story is one for Oskar, possibly. He's obsessed with serial killers, thinks about hurting or even killing his bullies, has no problem with it when Eli does kill the bullies, and after the ending, well, he'll probably have to help her find food somehow...
  • Puppy Love: Sort of; a very dark example.
  • Queer Romance: While Eli's exact self-understanding is not clear as read about below, one could consider Eli/Oskar's relationship to be one. Oksar in fact has a moment to stop rethink his own sexuality over Eli's reveal given that one of the insults his bullies have thrown at him over the years is "fag". Although in the end it seems he is fine getting past both the boy part and the vampire part.
    • Håkan on the other hand is a little more complicated. He clearly wants there to be a thing between him and Eli but Eli isn't very reciprocating. However while we may focus a lot of Håkan's status as a pedophile as far as his sexual orientation in general is, he is pretty clearly a male interested in other males. So inside his own head he'd consider himself an example of this trope.
  • Really 700 Years Old. Eli.
  • The Renfield: Eli starts out with an older 'guardian' who tries to protect her by draining blood out of victims. However we have a different take of a Renfield's motivation. Hakan here is an outed pedophile who Eli convinced to become his/her Renfield. Hakan is of course delighted at the body of an unchanging child. But this feeling is far from mutual as while internally Hakan regards Eli as his "beloved", Eli's discussions with him are much less emotional and by contrast are far less involved than the conversations she/he has with Oskar who she/he regards as an actual love interest.
  • Roaring Rampage of Rescue: Eli's slaughter of Jonny and Jimmy at the climax, to rescue Oskar from drowning.
  • Sadistic Choice: The climax involves a sadistic contest of Oskar being held underwater; if he can spend 3 minutes below the surface he just gets a cut on his cheek but if he can't spend 3 minutes below the surface, he gets his eye gouged out. Mind you he is also being held down by a bigger teen's hand which could also drown him instead. Also in the end averted with another sadistic ending, Oskar's vampire lover comes to even the score.
  • Suicide by Sunlight: One of Eli's victims Virginia does this to herself.
  • Sympathetic Murderer:
    • Eli kills people to survive. Oskar wants to kill the bullies for torturing him.
    • Likewise, Håkan in the book kills for Eli but hates doing it. He attempts to compensate for his crimes by giving away his money to help people. Although he's less less sympathetic than Eli and Oskar, being a pedophile and all.
  • Tears of Blood:when Eli isn't invited into Oskar's place but enters anyway, blood begins pouring out of her head and orifices, including her eyes.
  • Teens Are Monsters: In the book, Tommy is a strange case. While he spends his free time getting high off glue, stealing stuff, chewing tobacco, and reading porn, he does treat Oskar nicely, as opposed to the bullies. He even tells Oskar to stay away from porn. But tobacco's okay, for some reason. The story's set in The '80s, and in those days tobacco may have had less of a bad reputation—more so given it's chewing tobacco, which still doesn't carry the same stigma as cigarette smoking.
  • Titled After the Song: Morrissey's "Let The Right One Slip In" (though the title got strangely mangled in translation back to English).
  • Trapped in Villainy: Eli. She kills because she has to; she'll die if she doesn't. She makes no excuses for what she does beyond its necessity for her continued existence. Most vampires take their own lives rather than continue to kill, but Eli was turned so young that her survival instinct and willpower overrides her conscience.
  • Tomato Surprise: Eli is a boy.
  • Tragic Hero: Lacke.
  • Tragic Villain: Hakan is a pedophile who kills people to feed a vampire, but it's clear he hates himself for what he is, and his death is nothing short of heartbreaking, not to mention extremely painful.
  • Trial Balloon Question: Twofold. Eli asks Oskar if he would still like her if she weren't a girl. He says sure he would. What Eli really means is he is neither female nor human.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: One of Oskar's first scenes has him rehearsing a You Talkin' to Me? and pulling a knife... on a tree. And then, of course, there's Eli.
  • Undead Barefooter: Eli tends to go barefoot even in snow; that's one of the first signs that there's something weird about her.
  • Undead Child: Subverted. Eli insists she isn't technically undead.
  • Unsettling Gender Reveal: Eli's genitals are completely missing. In the novel, the vampire who bit him/her also chopped off all his/her male parts, making him/her... well, it's hard to say. It's not clear whether Eli really thinks that makes him/her female, is more comfortable presenting as a girl or likes things that tend to make others assume him to be a girl. Internally Eli did tell Oskar that he wasn't a girl a few times while every time taking clothes to wear having chosen items like dresses and panties. Clearly though to people who have only seen the films there is a lot more to this is in the book even if not neatly explained from Eli's point of view.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: With a twist. During the climax, a panicking Micke has no idea what Eli is when he invites her in. This allows her to save Oskar... by brutally massacring Oskar's tormentors.
  • Vampire Bites Suck: Unlike most vampire stories, victims keep struggling and resisting even while getting chewed on.
  • Villain Has a Point: There's no defense for the murders Eli commits, but she claims that killing to survive is more moral than killing for revenge or pleasure.
  • Villain Protagonist: Calling either Eli or Oskar good guys would be debatable.
  • Violently Protective Girlfriend: Eli takes this Up to Eleven. At the ending, she brutally massacres the gang of bullies trying to drown Oscar.
  • Viral Transformation: Vampirism is transmitted through the bite, and though it gives the person a Horror Hunger for blood it doesn't make them fundamentally evil. That said, it's bad enough most people are driven to suicide shortly after turning for fear of turning into murderers. Then there's what happens if they are completly drained but not fully killed which makes you more zombie than vampire.
  • The Virus: Vampirism is repeatedly referred to in the context of 'being infected'.
  • Warm Bloodbags Are Everywhere: Happens towards the middle. Eli follows Oskar to a secluded spot after she hasn't fed for a few days, and Oskar unexpectedly cuts his palm and offers to be blood brothers with her. She manages to fight the urge to eat him by lapping up the blood he was spilling, but reveals her Game Face in the process, growls, and runs away to feed off someone else.
  • Weakened by the Light: Vampires and sunlight. It's sort of a given.
  • Wham Line: "Even if I wasn't a girl...would you still like me?"
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Lindqvist wrote a short story called "Let the Old Dreams Die" that served as this. It reveals that Eli turns Oskar into a vampire after getting off the train. The two are spotted together in 2008, still as kids. Lindqvist wrote this as a way to confirm that Eli wasn't 'grooming' Oskar into being her helper.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Inverted by Eli, who despite having lived for over 200 years, is somewhat mentally limited by being physically 12.
  • Window Love: When Eli comes to Håkan's hospital room and is sitting outside on the window ledge unable to come in she presses her hand to the window.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Eli, a vampire who is trapped not just physically in a 12 year old body but mentally and emotionally as well, forced to kill to survive, whose only friend is an equally screwed up boy.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Or rather Couldn't Hurt a Child. Lacke wanted to kill Eli after she killed his best friend Jocke and caused his girlfriend Virginia's death, but when poised to actually kill her with a knife while she slept, he couldn't bring himself to use it on someone who at least looked so much like a child.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Eli lures Jocke in an alley by looking as if she is hurt, prompting him to help her out, leaving her to attack him.
  • You Are What You Hate: Håkan is a physically unattractive man who laments the loss of beauty in the world. At one point, while stalking a swimming pool for potential victims, he observes two men in the changing rooms with derision and contempt, seeing them as examples of ugliness, but the descriptions he gives them also apply to himself almost verbatim. His ultimate fate takes this Up to Eleven.


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