The Bottom Line
- An old-fashioned approach to storytelling with a new history and future for vampirism.
- Del Toro's original idea and Hogan's sharp and rich writing skills make this a compelling read.
- It has the characterization and story arc to stand with any novel beyond the horror genre.
- This one will keep you up late at night to keep the nightmares at bay.
- Recommended for mature audiences only.
- 'The Strain' by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan is a dark and enticing new beginning for vampires.
- Publisher: William Morrow, an imprint of Harper Collins, June 2009
- 401 pages
Guide Review - 'The Strain' by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan - Book Review
Dr. Ephraim Goodweather, the lead in the Canary Project, the most skilled response team to biological threats, has been called in to investigate a plane that has landed at JFK where everyone inside is dead. Meanwhile, a local antiques dealer and Holocaust survivor, Abraham Setrakian, sees the story on the news and has a feeling that an old master is at play, one that he first encountered in a concentration camp. The ancient underworld of something and someone completely unholy is about to be unleashed on New York City.
The mounting tension created here is the best I've read in years. Perhaps not since Scott Smith's A Simple Plan has a novel been so good at drawing out terror like a professional with a syringe. The Strain would be frightening enough with two-dimensional characters; the fact that this novel's character interrelations are as strong as its scares makes it all the more fascinating.
The greatest horror lies in the world Del Toro and Hogan have unleashed: one without a potential savior. The hero, Setrakian, an old man with crippled hands gives these thoughts at the possibility of defeating such a foe: "...in the absence of God he had found Man. Man killing man, man helping man, both of them anonymous: the scourge and the blessing." The Strain too is a scourge and a blessing. So good you won't want to put it down; so bad because this is only part 1 of 3 and the horrific vision at the end of the first tale is what will stick like dried blood until the next part in the story arrives.