Ever since reading ROSEMARY’S BABY in a 17th floor hotel room in New York late at night while it poured outside, I have been leaning more and more into horror. The eerie combination of the downpour mixed with the satanic references of the book had me glued to the page. Since then, I have been on the hunt for something just as thrilling. A recommendation from my fellow horror fan, Alexis, (and a fabulous deal at Chapters) put Del Toro and Hogan’s THE STRAIN next on the list.
THE STRAIN features a multitude of characters dealing with the after effects of a mysterious murder scene. When a Boeing 777 lands at JFK airport and stops dead on the tarmac, traffic control is in a frenzy. Not only does the airplane seem to have no power, but all of the windows have been pulled down. Representatives from the CDC are sent in to investigate and our main character, Dr. Eph Goodweather is pulled from an evening with his beloved son to rush to the airport. Eph is a part of the Canary project, a “rapid-response team that investigates biological threats”. What they find instantly instills terror into the team and the reader.
Just the image of the plane, blacked out from the inside but illuminated by large spotlights from the outside, was chilling. I won’t lie, this novel is about vampires — but not the sparkly kind we are now used to. These vampires are demonic beings and the product of a virus; the spread being referred to as “the strain”.
The story is built mostly on suspense and has you ripping through pages to find out what happens, but I was occasionally caught on the many transfers of characters. So many people are involved in the investigation of “the strain” and even more are caught in the effects of it. Although I felt that this separated me from Eph a bit (who was undoubtedly my favourite character and the reason I enjoyed the book), I understand the necessity of all the background information.
Certain scenes had my skin crawling, but there is no doubt that this book is the beginning of a trilogy, meaning the end leaves you with a further injection of terror rather than answers. Del Toro and Hogan had me envisioning dark hooded figures standing in my doorways at night. Mission accomplished.