Thursday, October 25, 2012
Book Review: The Night Eternal
Apart from the real world monsters of our own history, the creature in question here is The Master - the vampiric overlord who has devastated the planet with atomic weaponry, creating a nuclear winter that is more than ideal for his hive of strigoi, effectively blocking out the sun and plunging the planet into darkness. With the Earth's unaffected population managed with the allowance of bare bones blue-collar work, and the facilitation of macabre "blood camps", the world does, in fact, keep on turning as Doctor Ephraigm "Eph" Goodweather, Nora Martinez, and Vascily Fet manage to survive and resist, looking for any way to end The Master's reign.
The heroes of our story are likewise descended into their own Dark Night of The Soul; Eph has secluded himself from the band of survivors he once led, the torment of losing his wife and son pushing him toward coping skills of the pharmaceutical variety; Nora, the former colleague and lover of Eph, is stifled by the kidnap of her mother, and the return of a devil in human form; and finally, Fet, the Russian exterminator whose aptitude for survival and problem solving have placed him in an awkward position of power and purpose.
The Night Eternal did bring with it a few scares, particularly the blood camps. It was subtle, but the realization that something not too dissimilar took place within our own timeline lent an especially sinister quality, and the complete subjugation of the our race is always a source of disturbance. The vampire horror was fairly downplayed this go around, which I found to be an interesting choice from the writers. Instead, the real horror stems from the dissension within companionship, the parental fear of losing a child to death or estrangement, and the misery of loss.
As well developed as was the idea for The Night Eternal, I think it would be fair to say that the quality of the series is diminished as the books progress; what had been quirky and novel in the first book became somewhat overdone and cliche, and there's a point wherein you can only travel a two-dimensional plane of character for so long without succumbing to frequent fits of yawning.
Still, authors of The Night Eternal know how to keep their readers turning the page. There can be no question that both writers are seasoned story-tellers, as the book's vehicle of plot travels both fast and efficiently enough to move from point A to B; there's almost no noticing the lack of character depth or the overabundance of obviously manufactured conflict.
I'm almost ashamed to say that I'm glad to be finished with the series, but I do recommend it to anyone looking for something a little different in a genre that has become hopelessly stagnant. Writers Chuck Hogan and Guillermo Del Toro have no doubt brought some fresh blood to the table.