This review contains spoilers for The Strain and The Fall
The final book in Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s collaborative trilogy of vampire horror novels, The Night Eternal brings to an end the events begun in The Strain and continued in The Fall. Taking place two years after the conclusion of The Fall, The Night Eternal features a drastically different setting: the Master has plunged the world into nuclear winter, and humans and vampires have entered into a sort of symbiotic relationship; humans are kept in concentration camps and harvested for their blood, all the while relying on vampires to provide for them in their miserable new existence (think The Matrix, except without the illusion of happiness). The resistance has lost Abraham Setrakian, and Ephraim Goodweather has lost his wife and his son to the Master. All seems to be lost.
A new setting
After reading The Fall, I was pleasantly surprised upon beginning The Night Eternal to be introduced to the new setting described above. This fresh context for the story shakes things up from what we saw in the trilogy’s previous two books, and I honestly would’ve liked to have seen more of it. The concept of humans being kept in camps and harvested for blood is introduced in the book’s opening exposition, but very little of this actually appears in the story proper. I think this would have been a fascinating aspect of the new setting, and I was disappointed to discover it wasn’t really explored; even still, I very much enjoyed this new context in The Night Eternal.
The origin of the vampires
In The Night Eternal, we are finally given an explanation of the vampires’ origin. While it’s nice to finally get this information, I suspect it will be divisive amongst readers. It’s an ambitious origin story, and completely unlike anything I’ve seen before. It veers away from the scientific approach that was so prevalent in The Strain and treads more in the realm of the supernatural, but it’s not a wild deviation from what came before; readers with keen eyes will likely have picked up on the bits of subtle but suggestive imagery that was sprinkled throughout the first two books, hinting at the vampires’ origin before it was explicitly revealed. This origin story will likely be hard to swallow for those who preferred the scientific analysis of the vampires that was used so effectively in the previous books; it didn’t totally work for me, but I couldn’t help but admire the sheer audacity and refreshing newness of the authors’ approach to the material.
Fascinating character dynamics
The Night Eternal features some wonderful new dynamics between the characters. Abraham Setrakian’s absence is sorely felt as the book begins, but other characters and interactions fill this void quickly. The resistance begins to splinter as Eph, Nora, and Vasiliy Fet come to be at odds with each other. The most interesting new dynamic in The Night Eternal, however, is between Zack and the Master. The Master becomes an almost godlike father-figure to Zack, and their relationship makes for some of the book’s most interesting scenes.
Why should you read this book?
For the most part, The Night Eternal is a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy. It’s not as strong as The Fall, but there’s still a lot to like. The story takes place in an intriguing new setting, there are some truly fascinating character dynamics, and the finally-revealed origin of the vampires is an ambitious and refreshing take on the concept. If you’ve completed the first two books in the trilogy, you might as well continue on to the end. It’s not a perfect conclusion, but it’s a satisfying final entry that is certainly worth reading.