Book Book Book Book
Commentary Commentary RSS Reviews Podcasts_Audio Podcasts RSS Blog Links Archives Indexes
Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan
The Night Eternal
Reviewed by: Rick Kleffel © 2011

Wm Morrow / HarperCollins
US Hardcover First Edition
ISBN 978-0-061-55826-9
Publication Date: 10-28-2011
372 Pages; $26.99
Date Reviewed: 11-29-2011

Index:  Horror  General Fiction  Science Fiction  Fantasy

Inspiring a sick feeling of dread may not seem like the most desirable of goals for a novel, but you could cut a swathe through science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction and even non-fiction to create a new genre of stories with exactly that aim in mind. From 'War of the Worlds' to 'On the Beach,' from '1984' to 'The Hot Zone,' stories that unlock the abyss of worries that lay just beneath everyday life are as compelling as they are disturbing.

Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan started mining that mother lode with 'The Strain,' the first book in a trilogy that has ticked off a series of terrors that haunt our seemingly unshakeable modern world, and linked them all to a unified vampire mythology. 'The Strain,' the first book, was an effective portrait of plague played out with aggressive, monsterific vampires. In 'The Fall,' our monsters nuked the world to bring about a one-sided version of World War III. 'The Night Eternal' offers us the sick dread how willingly humans will collaborate with, and thus become, evil. It makes for an effective finish to a trilogy that is taut, smart and graced with just enough poetry to set the sharply-barbed hooks.

Del Toro and Hogan have already proved (in 'The Fall') that they are skilled at bringing readers back into the world they have created, and 'The Night Eternal' is no exception. The plot here is admirably straightforward; with the world under the sway of the Master Vampire, extermination camps are set up to breed and bleed humanity. The throngs necessary to make this happen are allowed to return to lives that might seem normal, were they not at the service of great evil. The heroes of the previous novel are possibly the only ones who can undermine the new ecosystem that is establishing itself.

The characters we know have grown and changed, particularly Zach Goodweather, who is being brought up under the not-so-tender mercies of the Master. Ephraim Goodweather has grown even more desperate and extreme, while Vasily Fet and Nora Martinez are searching for ways to undermine the New Order.

Beyond the depressing and compelling scenes of normalcy and collaboration, Del Toro and Hogan take us to the origin of vampires in a rather unexpected manner. Even this well-seasoned reader was caught unaware; and this origin story brings us a new, entertaining and pivotal character, Mr. Quinlan. In a world of rot and terror, both moral and physical, Quinlan is a breath of fresh air, which is an accomplishment, considering his origin.

'The Night Eternal' is the polar opposite of the typical trilogy-finishing tome. It's sparse, action-packed and almost hallucinatory in its brevity. Del Toro's visual signature is rippled through pages and scenes with Hogan's relentless pacing; but that's a guess, as the book is seamless in terms of narrative voice. It's pretty close to a one-sitting reading experience, and for some tastes, it may even be too brief.

Del Toro and Hogan have, with The Strain trilogy, mined a variety of our fears, created some indelible characters and plumbed the depths of dread with narrative vigor and literary visual flair. The real accomplishment of 'The Night Eternal' is that it provides both an effective beginning to the series, by giving us the origin of vampires, and an excellent ending that actually acknowledges that victory has its own costs. The Strain trilogy is gripping, complicated and thoroughly enjoyable, proving that books are just as effective an abyss as dread. Think of them as an external form of mental illness, one that can be picked up, but if they are well-crafted, not so easily put down, and difficult to forget.

Review Archive
All Reviews alphabetized by author.

General Fiction
Non-Genre, general fiction and literature.

Supernatural fiction, supernatural horror and non-supernatural horror.

Science Fiction
Science fiction, science fantasy, speculative fiction, alternate history.

Fantasy, surrealism and magic realism.

Crime, thrillers, mystery, suspense.

Non-Fiction, True Crime, Forteana, Reference.


Archives Indexes How to use the Agony Column Contact Us About Us