Guillermo del Toro has had a fascination with vampires since childhood. Cronos, his first internationally acclaimed film was about vampires, as well as Blade II not long after that. With each film he managed to successively build on his ideas about the creatures. Not your typical “Anne Rice” concept of these beings either.
Where Rice portrayed vampires as something to envy and lust after, del Toro’s conceptions are essentially the opposite. They’re everything you fear most. Complete corruptions of what it is to be human and not at all something you’d want to be.
If you’ve seen the Blade II reapers, then you begin to see the direction that del Toro is taking with his Strain Trilogy.
With the Strain Trilogy, del Toro attempts to bring together all the ideas about vampires that he’d previously only flirted with…by the end of these three books, the audience should be fully exposed to Guillermo’s version of the vampire myth. Every squirmy, uncomfortable, and minutia of detail.
The first book, titled The Strain is our introduction to his brave new world.
We meet the principle characters; Dr. Ephraim Goodweather, the Pawn Broker Abraham Setrakian, the Exterminator Vasiliy Fet, the gang banger Elizalde, and a handful of supporting characters all representing the corners and colors of humanity. By the end of this first story we’ve also met our antagonists both human and nosferatu. I’ll leave their names out, but they’re fairly easy to spot to those paying close attention.
The first book spends a sizable time and a fair amount of detail looking at the vampires themselves. They’re physical makeup, how they work from a biological standpoint (not Michael Crichton detailed, but enough to impress you at least a little). There are some seriously grotesque vampire attack sequences described here that alone are worth the price of admission. Look out for my favourite of these in the form of an attack on a UPS guy. It’s clear that Guillermo has put a lot of thought into every aspect of these creatures. This book puts that on display and it informs us going into the next leg of the story.
Falling From Grace
This brings us to The Fall. The second and upcoming book in the series. Also, the subject of this preview.
This latest book opens to an excerpt from Dr. Ephraim’s diary. A recap of the events of the first book and (cleverly) a bit of a flag-of-truce for some of the story points made in the last book.
Where the first book was about the physical manifestations of the vampires and the humans. The second book starts to delve a bit more into the emotional motivations of the characters. A great deal of information is covered this go around. We find ourselves taking a great many flashbacks to the past of in particular, Abraham Setrakian. It’s all for a reason ofcourse so, don’t groan too loudly. It all ties in to specific plot points in the present, but it also helps explain character motivations from the last book. Decisions that may not have seemed rational on further thought.
It’s not all past and rehashing though. Authors Chuck Hogan and del Toro give us plenty of new things to keep us on our tows. We’re introduced to several new forms of vampire. The first book introduced us to at least 2 or 3 evolutions of the creatures. This go around we’re introduced to further distinctions and whole new creations. Not all nightlife is made the same and Hogan/del Toro give us a run through the nuances of this society.
We’re also introduced to a few new human characters. A favourite of mine is the washed up, but endearing Luchador named Angel who I’m sure you’ll be rooting for during some of his harrowing encounters.
I can’t really give a review just yet, but I can say that fans of the first book will find that there’s plenty of story left in this blood sucking series. Look for a full review with thoughts from several of our staff; closer to the books release.
Buy the books:
The Strain (book 1 of the Strain Trilogy)
The Fall (book 2 of the Strain Trilogy)