This is the eagerly anticipated sequel to the strong opener in The Strain trilogy of books written by Hollywood uber-director Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan, author of Prince of Thieves (that novel adapted into recently released and highly rated Ben Affleck directed film The Town).
With such a good start to the series it was clear the heavyweight contenders behind its creation are more than appropriately tooled to deliver¬† the goods, as they did with The Strain. Were they able to continue the strong pace of that horror-cum-apocalyptic entree? Read on to find out (warning: spoilers for The Strain contained in remainder of review, including next paragraph).
The Fall continues on immediately from the very strong endings of the first novel. I say endings because, well, there were three conclusions to that bad boy of a book. Not content with just the showdown with big, bad, evil vampire overlord and ancient ‘the Master’, the authors dropped in a few other parting farewells to make the months in-between the novels even more unbearable for the fans. But patience is rewarded as we hit the ground running, with our characters jumping into the mix as per usual (and what else is there to do with all those vamps overrunning everywhere).
Setrakian, Holocaust survivor, scholar, pawnshop owner and all round vampire slayer extraordinaire unravels and reveals more information pertaining to the Master’s plans. Thus is it that soon the party of friends must split up in order to effectively fight the menace which is shadowing cancerously over the land. I love Setrakian. He is awesome through and through.
In the first book we read how he was fighting vile war crimes inflicted on his people in the Nazi death camps, whilst also fighting the vampire who came into the camp to try and stop that fiend from taking his friends lives, and then continuing his fight for humanity further in his battle against the vampire race. Well, if you’re a Setrakian fan, you’ll enjoy The Fall too as we find out more about his back story.
The other characters we got to know in the first book, and love or hate, are also developed further in this tale and in a thorough, respectable way. The authors care about these characters, and it shows. Ephram, having fallen from the wagon, sets a target different to his colleagues in the maligned billionaire and traitor to the human race, Eldritch Palmer. On Palmer: here’s a guy you really love to hate, and continue to hate him you will likely do. He’s an excellent villain, adept in cruelty and misaligned beyond humanity (yet still human).
At one point in the novel there’s an apt link up to the state of affairs experienced by the motley crew and our own real-life woes with the collapse of the economy and banking system. In the real world we’ve got the Wall Street bankers as targets of our ire – here in this book we’ve got Eldritch Palmer added to the problem as a co-orchestrator. It’s an quirky comparison that’s nicely handled.
Then there’s Eph’s son, on the run from his mum-turned-vampire Kelly, who’s being shepherded by Eph’s colleague and love interest Nora into Canada. He’s believable, likable, non-cliched, as is Nora herself. Their struggle is one that’ll have you on the edge of your seat, and certainly makes for some tense reading indeed.
The exterminator Fet, who had gone from killing rodents to vampires, and is more than adequately equipped to do so, is explored further in this book. It’s great to see his character develop. The relationship between himself and Setrakian is great, and at times quite touching. Fet is pure class; from his short and interspersed blog, which reaches out to the reader as it’s peppered lightly through the chapters, to his embedded and unflinching loyalty to the team. Regarding the blog that he writes – such a change of narrative direction could’ve come off clunky – but it doesn’t.¬† It works really well in fact.
It’s hard for me not to be excited about this book, as having really enjoyed The Strain which set a strong foundation for the series, I enjoyed The Fall as much, if not more. I like that it wasted none of the opportunities that the first book set up, and delivered the plot twists and turns in shocking aplomb, alongside appropriate gouges of supernaturally-charged action-horror.
It has certainly been an interesting year for vampire horror novels. It’s like the crown has been ripped away from the more gothic/romantically-infused vampire titles in the genre and placed back on the head of the classic horror and blood-soaked books.
What with Justin Cronin’s The Passage and now this book. We’ve been spoiled.¬† And now we have to wait, that little bit longer, for sequels to both: how tortuous. If the third title in The Strain trilogy is as good as the first two books, then we’ve good times ahead.