The Fall by Guillermo del Toro & Chuck Hogan
Authors Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan move the world of their apocalyptic vampire saga to a darker place in the second of their STRAIN trilogy, The Fall. This second volume is short, at less than 300 pages, and makes for a satisfying companion when read back-to-back with the first in the trilogy, The Strain. I will reference some spoilers to The Strain below, since this is a series that needs to be read in chronological order.
The sunset of humankind is the dawn of the blood harvest.
At the end of The Strain, our primary players, pawnbroker/professor/vampire-hunter Abraham Setrakian and CDC disease specialist Ephraim Goodweather were left having just injured, but not killed, the Dark Master. Eph’s ex-wife had just been turned, and made it clear that she was taking the custody battle over their son Zack to a whole new level.
The Fall propels the trilogy’s story at a break neck pace. I couldn’t help but feel that this middle frame in the series was carved out as a bridge from the creation of the characters, plot and modern vampire myths of the first book, to the world-shaking catalytic conclusion that take place in the final book.
Like its predecessor, The Fall is dark and weighty. All plot elements and characters are taken with a deep seriousness — sometimes melodramatic, but contextually appropriate to the story and its themes. With strong, visually-oriented writing, one can sense the imagery brought to the novel through del Toro’s filmmaker’s eye.
The Fall delves deeper into the existence of The Ancients — the world’s original vampires — and their world-wide power struggle. Not all vampires are alike, and while they don’t actually appear in many scenes themselves, one feels the pall of their shadow throughout Setrakian’s search for a solution to save humanity. Some scenes play out like the slickest wire-fighting battles from The Matrix. Other scenes play out like the bloodiest of zombie-killing video games.
As literature, The Fall rates 3 stars, but I love how Hogan and del Toro build their fictional world, and develop their vampire history and myth. As a story this rates 4 stars, and the myth-building of the first two novels promises a dramatic finish in The Night Eternal.