The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan

11 Sep

Published by HarperCollins Canada, 2009
Reviewed by Colleen McKie

I love vampire stories. Way before Twilight ever hit its stride I was reading about nasty, blood sucking vampires.  You know, the kind without a conscience, only concerned with drinking blood and nothing else.  Sure, I was a huge Buffy and Angel fan, but at least those shows had the odd bad guy vampire. In today’s vampire market, most of the vampire are brooding, sexy guys that are merely “misunderstood”.

Well, thankfully Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan decided to put some of the nastiness back into the vampire genre, moving as far away from the romantic notion of vampirism as possible.

When a plane lands safely at JFK airport, only to go completely dark the_strainand silent, a biological attack is feared, and the CDC is called in. Dr. Eph Goodweather takes charge of the situation and as the head of the Canary project – a fast response team that only investigates sensitive biological threats – it was assumed that he would not only be up for the job, but that he could successfully contain whatever had happened on the Boeing 777.  But no one was prepared for what was about to happen as a plague – vampirism – spread its way throughout New York.

As soon as I realized that this was a book about a plague that spreads vampirism, I knew I would be hooked. And I was. From the opening scene the tension is high, and remains so. I rarely ever deem a book scary, but this one had me shivering in a few spots and wanting to actually warn people in the book about what was happening.

The story was an amazing meld of horror, medical drama, action and urban fantasy. At the base of any great disaster book is a team of unlikely heroes, and The Strain has that in Dr. Eph Goodweather, his colleague and sometimes love interest, Nora Martinez, Abraham Setrakian (perhaps the oldest vampire hunter ever written) and Vasiliy Vet, an exterminator.

And if you are looking for a bad guy, The Strain offers up The Master, one of the ancient vampires who is up to a whole lot of not good.

For me, the most interesting and inventive aspect of the story was how vampirism was portrayed as a disease and how the authors had scientific explanations behind some of the most common vampire lore, such as vampires adverse reaction to sunlight and the fact that they appear to have no reflection.

But for you die hard fans looking for more traditional vampire lore, there is plenty of that, too, and we get some of the back story to the Master through Abraham Setrakian’s story. And towards the end of the book we get a taste of some of the more ancient vampires.

The Strain is the first in The Strain Trilogy, with the second book, The Fall being released in 2010 and the final book, The Night Eternal out in 2011.

I loved this book and this story so much, I’m not sure how I will manage to wait a year for the second book but one thing is for sure: I will be at the book store bright and early on the release date.

Browse inside The Strain.


2 Responses to “The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan”


  1. My top 5 scary reads « Lavender Lines - October 30, 2009

    […] The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan– Best damn vampire book I’ve read in quite a while. No sparkly teen vamps anywhere. Just pure bloodsucking fiends. […]

  2. BBAW and awkward self-promotion « Lavender Lines - July 8, 2010

    […] Review: The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan […]

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