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Cannonball Read IV: The Night Eternal by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan

By Doctor Controversy | Book Reviews | June 8, 2012 | Comments ()


(Many thanks to the fine people at Harper Collins, specifically Shawn Nicholls, for providing me with an Advanced Reader Copy of the book I'm about to review. It's because of people like this that I am a literary addict of the highest regard.)

A warning before we proceed, there are obvious spoilers to The Strain and The Fall in this review, so read those two beforehand or proceed with caution. That said, it's time to resurrect the phrase, "It's gonna be Biblical". It used to mean something so epic and awesome that only the Good Book itself could have dreamed it, but over time its basically become the new "Epic". That is, until Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan wrote the concluding chapter to their Strain Trilogy, The Night Eternal. After reading this book, the term retains its full relevance, and dares modern horror writers to follow in their footsteps.

When we last left Dr. Ephraim "Eph" Goodweather and his band of vampire slayers, the world was nuked to shit. Sunlight is precious and scarce, and thanks to The Stoneheart Group's sleeper infrastructure taking power, humans are now a harvested quantity. Blood farms, required donations, enforced curfews, re-runs, and B-Positive breeding programs are the way of the world. And all that stand in the way of the complete domination of humanity is Goodweather and his team. It's not going to be easy though as Eph's leadership is called into question (thanks to a newly formed dependency on drugs and alcohol) and the rise of one Vasilly Fet. Yes, Setrakian's favored exterminator is now not only the wiser looking man in the room, he's shacking up with Nora (whom Eph was still rather sweet on, but began to become distant towards). Meanwhile, The Master is grooming Eph's beloved son, Zachery (who, as we know, was abducted by Eph's vamped out ex-wife at the end of The Fall), into his new vessel. This grooming process is carried out through blood bonding to treat the young boy's asthma; as well as a new life of spoiled privilege that changes Zach's outlook on humanity and life itself. As father and son move towards a possibly fateful reconciliation, Fet uses his new found academic drive to make the moves necessary to bring the game between Vampires and humans to a most explosive endgame.

The key piece in the game, the one thing that everyone is making a move towards is The Occido Lumen, the book that details the Biblical origins of vampirism, and the story of Mr. Quinlan...the second vampire to be created after The Master himself. Within the book lie secrets to the fabled "black site" that created The Master, and will end him if taken out with a nuclear pulse.

The Night Eternal brings the trilogy started with The Strain to a satisfying conclusion. As with the previous two entries in the series, the back and forth between the Occido Lumen's story of vampirism's origins and the main story of Goodweather and Company trying to defeat the vampire menace works like a charm. If anything, I would be thrilled if Mr. Quinlan's story could be further explored, and more tales of the Occido Lumen could be told. This series has a high potential for spin offs that wouldn't feel cheap. The ending overall is especially impressive, by pulling off what I knew they'd have to do in order to end the series and pulling no punches. It ends the way it should, it doesn't cop out, and it gives a hopeful yet bittersweet close to what I've been obsessing and begging William Morrow for advanced copies for over the past two years.

I want Del Toro and Hogan to write more books together, hell I wouldn't mind Del Toro going solo from this point on either. The storytelling that has gone into this series has been an exact match for the scale that the cover blurb from Nelson DeMille promises: "Bram Stoker meets Stephen King meets Michael Crichton". I know I've drawn attention to this fact before, but honestly it's the best way to describe the blend of styles in the plot. So really, you're getting five authors for the price of two. (This is a bargain already.)

So William Morrow/Harper Collins, I just want to say THANK YOU for letting me cover this journey with you. And thank you Shawn Nicholls for dealing with my constant nagging/inquiring about when the next book would be out, and when Review Copies would be issued. It's been worth the time, the effort, and all the time plugging my nose into the books.

For more of Doctor Controversy's reviews, check out his blog, The Bookish Kind.

This review is part of Cannonball Read IV. Read all about it.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • I reviewed The Night Eternal for the Cannonball also and I was not impressed. Whereas the first 2 were somewhat grounded in science, Night Eternal becomes a full on supernatural tale steeped in biblical mythology complete with messiah figure. I thought The Strain was excellent, but the books have gotten progressively worse. Eph is completely unlikable in the third book and that made it hard to care about his various crises along the way. The ending was ok but very abrupt and given that it is the last stand, I was surprised the fight ended up being so mundane. I really didn't like it.

  • NateMan

    I'm sorry to have to say this, having loved both The Strain and The Fall, but Night Eternal sucked great, big, hairy, sweaty monkey balls. And even the monkey didn't enjoy it. I hated this book from start to finish, and I was so very angry I wasted an Audible credit on it. It started out with the vamps being a disease strain, and by the end there was so much crap mysticism I wanted to through my iPod out the window. I'm glad someone enjoyed it - really, I am, because the first 2 were great and as you say I want these 2 to write more, but this was the taint of Return of the Jedi, Godfather 3, Alien 3, etc. all rolled into one great big pile of disappointment. What a waste. 

  • KatSings

    Testing if I can post from IE

  • Fredo

    Loved the series.  My one problem with this book though is that it gets rather nihilistic given that Eph and his team are always just one step away from breaking.

  • Captain_Tuttle

    I'm not familiar with these books, so I stopped reading right after the word "spoilers" - however, if you recommend this series, I'm in.  Where does one start?

  • Javier

    it's just a trilogy of books... first "The Strain", then "The Fall" and finally this one "The Night Eternal"

    overall, I think this last book was the weakest, it was still good but to me it just felt a bit different than the others...I don't know if it was because it moved 2 years forward to a fully vampiric takeover or what, but it just felt different

    one thing though, when you say "the book that details the Biblical origins of vampirism, and the story of Mr. Quinlan…the second vampire to be created after The Master himself."
    If I recall correctly Mr. Quinlan wasn't the second vampire created, his mother was turned while he was in womb and I think the Master had been a vampire for years before Quinlan came to be so I think it's safe to assume there were others already.

    which brings me to a point I thought when I first read the decription of a fully turned vampire, I pictured almost identical to the new breed of vampires in the Del Toro directed Blade II movie, and now that I think about it Quinlan kinda makes him the Blade of that Universe, so Del Toro definitely drew a lot from that experience.

  • Groundloop

    I have to agree that this was the weakest of the the 3, if only because it seemed more obvious (to me anyway), that it was written by 2 people. At times it felt almost like Del Toro and Hogan were writing alternate sentences, with no effort made to blend their styles.

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