Review: The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

If you’re tired of the current glut of wimpy, sparkly-shiny vampires, this book is the perfect antidote. Del Toro’s vampires are brutal, disgusting, ravenous monsters. No romance here, folks.

Ephraim Goodweather heads up the Canary Project, a “rapid-response team of field epidemiologists organized to detect and identify incipient biological threats.” These could be biological weapons, man-made outbreaks or naturally occurring viruses that become a danger to the population. When a plane lands at JFK under mysterious circumstances, his team is called in to assess the danger.

Eph is a devoted dad, fighting for custody of his son, Zack – not an easy prospect, with a job like his. He tries to protect Zack and his ex-wife, Kelly – even her new boyfriend, Matt, But they won’t listen. No one is going to listen until it’s too late.

The mysterious landing of Flight 753 (Berlin to New York) is one of the creepiest things I’ve read in a long time. The landing is perfect…then it just stops. Sits there on the runway – no power, no lights, no engines, and every single window shade pulled down tight. The atmosphere described by the authors is so ominous that you’ve got goosebumps well before Eph and his team show up.

Of course, there was a vampire on that flight. An ancient evil, to steal an over-used phrase. These vampires don’t just spread their disease by biting; they have other ways to get under your skin. But there is one man in Manhattan who is very familiar with this particular evil, an old pawnshop owner named Abraham Setrakian. He will join forces with Eph, Zack, Eph’s partner, Nora, and an exterminator named Vasily Fet. Vasily has spent his whole life killing vermin – he may have a useful trick up his sleeve.

I loved this book! I love a good scare and this one delivers. The vamps are creepy, there is plenty of atmosphere and the story just sucks you in. I would expect no less from Guillermo del Toro (I’m a big fan of his movies); I’m not familiar with Chuck Hogan’s work, but I will definitely be checking him out.

The Strain is the first book in a trilogy. It is scheduled for release June 2, 2009; you can pre-order your copy at

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