New Books (June-July)


Featuring: Dan Abnett, Sarah Andersen, Tiffani Angus, Robert Jackson Bennett, Charles Cumming, Aliette de Bodard, Mark de Jager, Guillermo del Toro, Robert Draper, Jackson Ford, Andrea Hairston, Katie Hill, Patrick Hoffman, Chuck Hogan, Thilde Kold Holdt, S.A. Hunt, Ken Kwapis, C.S. Malerich, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Brian Naslund, Megan E. O’Keefe, Christopher Paolini, Stan Parish, K.J. Parker, C.T. Rwizi, Ethan Sherwood Strauss, Andrea Stewart, Jeremy Szal, Kimberly Unger, Michael Wood

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Upcoming: THE HOLLOW ONES by Guillermo Del Toro & Chuck Hogan (Grand Central/Del Rey UK)


I somehow missed this until last week. This summer, Guillermo del Toro (director of The Shape of Water, Pan’s Labyrinth and many others) teams up again with Chuck Hogan (writer of The Town) for The Hollow Ones, an intriguing-sounding thriller. Here’s the synopsis:

A horrific crime that defies ordinary explanation.
A rookie FBI agent in dangerous, uncharted territory.
An extraordinary hero for the ages.

Odessa Hardwicke’s life is derailed when she’s forced to turn her gun on her partner, Walt Leppo, a decorated FBI agent who turns suddenly, inexplicably violent while apprehending a rampaging murderer. The shooting, justified by self-defense, shakes the young FBI agent to her core. Devastated, Odessa is placed on desk leave pending a full investigation. But what most troubles Odessa isn’t the tragedy itself-it’s the shadowy presence she thought she saw fleeing the deceased agent’s body after his death.

Questioning her future with the FBI and her sanity, Hardwicke accepts a low-level assignment to clear out the belongings of a retired agent in the New York office. What she finds there will put her on the trail of a mysterious figure named John Blackwood, a man of enormous means who claims to have been alive for centuries, and who is either an unhinged lunatic, or humanity’s best and only defense against unspeakable evil.

From the authors who brought you The Strain Trilogy comes a strange, terrifying, and darkly wondrous world of suspense, mystery, and literary horror. THE HOLLOW ONES is a chilling, spell-binding tale, a hauntingly original new fable from Academy Award-winning director Guillermo del Toro and bestselling author Chuck Hogan featuring their most fascinating character yet.

The authors previous collaborated on the The Strain trilogy, which has received both TV and comic adaptations. I’m really looking forward to reading this one. The Hollow Ones is due to be published by Grand Central in North America (June 23rd) and Del Rey in the UK (July 16th).

Follow the Author (del Toro): Goodreads, Twitter
Follow the Author (Hogan): Goodreads, Twitter

Teaser: Guillermo del Toro & Chuck Hogan’s THE STRAIN (TV)

The teaser trailer for upcoming TV adaptation of Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s The Strain was unveiled by FX during the Super Bowl. Here it is:

“The Strain” by Guillermo del Toro & Chuck Hogan (Harper/William Morrow)

DelToroHogan-1-TheStrainThe start of the vampire apocalypse… It’s very well-written, but…

At New York’s JFK Airport an arriving Boeing 777 taxis along a runway and suddenly stops dead. All the blinds have been drawn, all communications channels have mysteriously gone quiet. Dr Ephraim Goodweather – head of a rapid-response team investigating biological threats – boards the darkened plane… and what he finds makes his blood run cold.

Meanwhile, in a pawnshop in Spanish Harlem, aged Holocaust survivor Abraham Setrakian knows that the war he has been dreading his entire life is finally here.

Before the next sundown Eph and Setrakian must undertake the ultimate fight for survival. A terrifying contagion has come to the unsuspecting city – hungry, merciless, lethal… vampiric?

It took me so long to get around to reading this. And it’s taken me a few months to get around to writing the review. I’m not sure why, but there we go. The first in del Toro and Hogan’s trilogy, it chronicles the events that spark the outbreak of a vampiric plague in New York, threatening the country beyond, and the toppling of the status quo. It’s an interesting novel, but one that I struggled with a fair bit, given its pacing. Conceived as a trilogy, this novel is basically the set-up and that’s about it. We learn a little of the background – minor moments from the vampire’s history, and the former-concentration camp inmate who discovered that it was feeding on inmates; and then, decades later, tracking it across to the New World.

The Strain is a novel that, in my mind, doesn’t really require too long a review. It is basically the opening act for the next two novels in the series, and doesn’t stand on its own. Things only really start to happen in the final 20% or so of the book. True, the story follows a more slow-burn, anticipatory-horror approach to unveiling the threat and seeing the vampires spreading across Manhattan and New York’s other boroughs. This slow pace irked me, I have to admit. It felt like a lot of hurry-up-and-wait. True, the authors give us a very good, detailed account of how vampires develop over time, and how the epidemic spreads. Also, how intransigent people are when it comes to being faced with the supernatural and inexplicable. But beyond that, when I finished the book I didn’t feel a need to immediately reach for book two (which I have). I’m sure I will, at some point, but at the moment, I have no burning desire to get on with the series.

As for the craft of the novel? Yes, del Toro and Hogan have done a very good job of covering all their bases, and creating their own vampiric lore that has more in common with zombie apocalypse tales (in the way vampirism is more like a disease than not) and plague outbreak. It is interesting, and it’s well-written. The characters are realistic and well-drawn, and the vampires are sufficiently and particularly horrific – mindless, feeding beasts that have more in common with the aforementioned walking dead than the more popular version of vampires. There’s a creepy and cool hive-mind quality to how they operate and how the primary vampire controls and directs them. I particularly enjoyed the flashback chapters that detailed the historical brushes with the creature. I hope we get a few more of them in the next book.

If you’re interested, or particularly driven, to dedicate yourself to reading all three novels in a row, I’m sure this is a very rewarding story. The pacing of the first threw me, sure, but I can’t fault the authors’ talents on display. It’ll be interesting to see how it translates onto TV…


The Strain is published in the UK by Harper, and by William Morrow in the US.