Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan
The first novel by film director Guillermo Del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy) is quite possibly this year’s most terrifying literary entry. Along with coauthor Chuck Hogan, Del Toro crafts what could be called the anti-Twilight. The novel’s vampires have no need for seduction or sex (male sex organs rot and fall off during the transformation), and they reek of decay and fetid soil. The Strain gives us creatures that share none of the sympathetic traits that normally attract the public to vampires. Instead, these monsters share more with the fierce, fast and rapidly multiplying zombies of Danny Boyle (28 Days Later). The Strain supposes vampirism as analogous to the spread of disease, with its hero Eph Goodweather being a member of the CDC who battles the bloodsuckers with the aid of a disgraced European professor (who may know the secret behind the deadly outbreak). Del Toro’s extensive knowledge of comic books and the makings of a good horror story propel this suspenseful and entertaining novel (the first in a series of three) to the same nightmarish heights as Stephen King’s best work.