Friday, June 4, 2010

#25: The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan

A master vampire lands in Manhattan, leading to an undead plague in The Strain, the first novel by horror movie director Guillermo Del Toro alongside veteran thriller writer Chuck Hogan.

The novel opens with an empty plane landing at JFK, mirroring Dracula's memorable boat scene (one of many homages paid to a variety of horror classics).  In the long, leisurely creepy opening chapters  the CDC is dispatched, suspecting terrorism or some sort of viral outbreak.  By the time the scientists fathom what has really happened the vampire rampage is in full swing.

Then the novel ramps up full blast as the scientists end up with a smattering of ragtag helpers, including an aged vampire hunter, a municipal rat catcher, and a gangbanger, pursuing the king vampire and his minions across the Big Apple.

Probably 95 percent of the big cast of characters gets killed or turned before the cliffhanger ending (The Strain is the first of a reported trilogy).  But along the way there are plenty of skin-crawling shocks and scares to satisfy any horror hound.  Del Toro and Hogan come up with their own credible vampire mythology (and no, they aren't sparkly) that adds to the interesting read.

I listened to a really good audio book version read by actor Ron Perlman, on loan from Morrison-Reeves Public Library in Richmond, Indiana.

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