To say that reading The Fall would remind one of the movie 28 days and 28 days later but with a “Bite” is perhaps close to how reading the book would feel but of course any cinematic medium still can’t compare to the cinema of images and sound that runs and rules the mind when gripped by a good book. Such, for me, is this one.
Following the events detailed in the first book, The Strain, its sequel, The Fall aptly titled, metaphorically works on different levels for the reader upon finishing the last chapter. When last seen our hero, (CDC) Center for Disease head, Ephraim Goodweather together with Jewish Pawnshop broker and Vampire expert, Abraham Setrakian, has just faced the Master and lived to tell the tale. Along with rat exterminator, Vasilly Fet, they have traced the Master’s lair to the tunnels underneath Ground Zero in New York, flushed him out and even wounding him after facing him head on following an attack on their home. But surviving that was just the beginning as The Master’s human partner in this pandemic crisis, billionaire cripple, Eldritch Palmer have begun to infiltrate people in government, and turned the tide against Ephraim and made him look like the bad guy for having uploaded a video of a Vampiric transformation and blamed him for the death of fellow CDC officer. Apparently in wanting to warn the public and do good, he has done more harm.
By the time the crisis was addressed by Congress, numerous raids by newly turned Vampires have begun in different neighbourhoods and being not warned, local enforcement officers have fallen both as prey and have become turned victims by the monster themselves. If this wasn’t enough, Ephraim had to deal with his wife being newly turned and is hunting them as they move from one sanctuary after another. One silver lining amidst all this was the revelation of The Ancients, a group of 6 Vampires who are opposed to what the Master is doing and have rescued Book 1 survivor, Gus and added him to their roster of exterminators and contracted humans to fight against the Master’s increasing forces.
Like the first book, and in spite of the wait for its release, The Fall, succeeds in keeping the pace and twists of the storyline and even add more glimpses into some of the characters past like how Abraham and Eldritch Palmer have been rivals in the Vienna University, and it is rivalry that has characterized their relationship ever since. We also learn that being a survivor in a Nazi concentration camp, Setrakian’s commanding officer was currently the Master’s right hand man, Thomas Eichhorst. Add to that is the revelation and search for a mysterious book called the Occido Lumen, a silver lined tome that holds the key to the Vampiric origin and greatly desired by both the Master and Abraham himself. And you know how Silver is poisonous to Vampires. Well, in this book, that is.
The title works for me on all levels as it refers to different beats in the story. On the surface, it does mean the fall of different key cities in the book like New York, Washington, Korea, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Paris and others as well as the fall of Man to these beings who clearly declare that they are at the top of the food chain by way of their actions. But in certain places, it also covers the fall of the Ancients themselves, by falling into hubris and not protecting their own ranks from the Master’s infiltration as well as Man’s own fall into the abyss of his own dark side and turning against his fellowmen when push comes to shove.
So clearly on all levels, the book is a good read for me in spite of some scenes that didn’t explain why some of the Ancients were just dropping down like flies and turning into a pile of white ash while Abraham was in conference to them when he brought them the book. Clearly it was the doing of the Master who by this time in the book we know was part of this Ancient Coven and was also the 7th and the youngest member of the circle who rebelled and waged this war; this infection of the food supply in bitter protest against the Ancients who have not given him his due. But I would’ve wanted a clear insight as to how the Master was doing this. Or we left to assume that the silver-lined photo flash that Fet and Abraham rigged underneath the tunnels have been copied by the Master? (scratches head)
With that said I hope that I have given this book its due and warrants enough interest for you to either pick it up or begin reading the book that began it all. Like Empire Strikes Back, Two Towers, our heroes are battered, bruised, pushed to hell and back but there is definitely still some fight left in them. Till then like you, I will be awaiting the 3rd and final installment of this hi-tech vampire epic and like the Master and picking up on his own line, I look forward to “The Night Eternal”.