Title: The Night Eternal
Author: Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan
Publisher: Harper Collins
It’s been two years since the vampiric virus has been released in The Strain, and the entire world now lies on the brink of annihilation. There is only one night as nuclear winter blankets the land, the sun filtering through the poisoned atmosphere for two hours each day – the perfect environment for the propagation of vampires. There has been mass extermination of humans, the best and the brightest, the wealthiest and influential, orchestrated by the Master who selects survivors based on compliance. Those humans who remain are entirely subjugated, interred in camps, and separated by status; those who breed more human, and those who are bled for the sustenance of the Master’s vast army.
Anyone who regularly follows my blog knows that I prefer my vampires as pure manifestations of evil. When I started writing back in late 2003, there were few contemporary novels on the market in which vampires were portrayed as true monsters. This dearth of the depraved undead was one of the reasons I chose to write my trilogy in the first place. So in 2009, when I saw Guillermo del Toro’s and Chuck Hogan’s The Strain in my local bookstore, I was psyched. Del Toro’s Blade II is one of my favorite vampire movies because of their dark portrayal and the mythos he created. I felt sure I was going to get my money’s worth of bad-ass blood suckers, carnage, and mayhem. Del Toro and Hogan did not disappoint.
[NOTE: If you haven’t read the first two books in the trilogy – The Strain and The Fall – then go do so now and stop reading this review as it will give away some plots details.]
The Night Eternal begins two years after the domination of the vampires over mankind. Nuclear winter limits the sunlight to just a few hours a day, leaving the earth a dark and morbid shell of its former self and giving the undead complete dominance. Those humans who survived the downfall serve as nothing more than slaves or blood cattle to their new lords. Having achieved near complete dominance, the Master now seeks to solidify his control, first by gaining possession of the Lumen, the book that holds the secrets of the Ancient vampires, and second by taking as his new host Zack Goodweather, the son of his greatest enemy, who over the past two years of captivity has distanced himself from his father and fallen under the Master’s influence.
Only a handful of humans stand between the Master and complete vampire domination, but their personal failings threaten the resistance. Eph Goodweather has become the last hope for humanity following the death of Dr. Setrakian, but his love for Zack is such that he is willing to betray mankind and trade the Lumen to get back his son. Eph’s obsession cost him his relationship with his colleague and lover, Dr. Nora Martinez, who accuses him on putting the resistance in jeopardy in order to save Zack, even though she endangers the group while dragging around her senile mother. Caught between Eph and Nora is Vassily Fet, who slowly assumes Goodweather’s mantle as head of the resistance and lover to Nora, and Gus, the Mexican gangbanger who will become the resistance’s major ally against the vampires, but who harbors a dark secret that could mean their defeat.
The Night Eternal is an excellent ending to del Toro’s and Hogan’s trilogy. The drama and tension are what one would expect from writers of this caliber, and the action is fast-paced and keeps the reader on the edge of their seat, culminating in an explosive ending. Just as important as the plot are the characters. The authors have developed them over the course of the books until you feel their fears, anguish at their betrayal, and want to scream at their stupidity, yet all the while keep them true to themselves.
The Night Eternal, along with the rest of the trilogy, rank among the best vampire novels on the market today. I give this book four and a half out of five vampire fangs.