Reviewed by Elizabeth T.

A horrific virus has been unleashed in New York City, creating savage vampires that hunt indiscriminately. Civilization has nearly crumbled, leaving anarchy in the vampires’ wake. There is only a small group of people that oppose these powerful creatures, including former CDC employee Ephraim Goodweather and his son, elderly Abraham Setrakian, Nora Martinez, and exterminator Vasiliy Fet. They stand alone between the strigoi and total human annihilation.

The story continues immediately after the group’s attempt to destroy the Master, the powerful vampire behind the epidemic. Setrakian hopes to obtain a book from the 17th century that could give him the key to destroying all the vampires, but every time this book has surfaced, disaster has followed. To make things worse, Eldritch Palmer, a very rich and sickly man, is giving the Master his full support; Ephraim’s ex-wife turned vampire is stalking the small group of heroes to turn her loved ones. Through all these obstacles, can Ephraim and his hodgepodge group save the human race?

Usually, the second book of a trilogy drags and falls flat, simply succeeding in setting up the characters for the grand finale. The Fall is not the typical second book. It is just as compelling as its predecessor, but very bleak. The vampires Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan created aren’t your standard tall, dark, handsome, or sparkling types that have become popular in recent years. They are disgusting and their only interest in humans is for food and transmitting the virus so that it will spread as far as possible. This view of vampires is refreshing since there are so few truly dangerous vampire stories out there. I like that the physiological changes as one turns from human to vampire are described in detail – it lends a sense of realism to a typically fantastical creature.

There are a few new things in The Fall that I found particularly interesting and compelling. The first is the concept that human love is corrupted and changed in the conversion from human to vampire, leading the new vampire to infect their loved ones with the virus. It makes the epidemic all that more devastating when even love is not safe. This theme recurs throughout the novel and proves to be toxic to the protagonists.

Vampire children are introduced when children blinded by the eclipse are kidnapped and turned into troops that don’t rely on eyesight to fight the enemy. These creatures are incredibly disturbing and difficult for the humans to deal with since they still appear to be children. Another new addition is the small group of original ancient vampires that oppose the Master because they view vampirism as a great gift to be given with discretion to only the most deserving. It makes sense that vampires wouldn’t want to overtake humans and thus deplete their own food source.

The Strain Trilogy brings vampires from the romance genre they’ve settled in back to their true horror roots. The Fall is a worthy follow-up to The Strain and continues this intensely addictive series in a worthy fashion! I cannot wait for the final installment, Eternal Night!

Elizabeth is a student at Cal State Long Beach. She laughs a lot, loves cats, and lives for music and books. You can read her blog here: http://titania86-fishmuffins.blogspot.com/.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by William Morrow. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.