Justin Cronin’s “vampire” trilogy reaches its thrilling conclusion this week with the publication of The City of Mirrors. If you’re familiar with the previous two entries, The Passage and The Twelve, then you know calling it a vampire trilogy is selling it short, threatening to put it alongside the likes of the Twilight series. It’s so much more than that. Cronin’s is a deeply human narrative of love, families, friendships, and sacrifice set against an impossibly apocalyptic background.
The Twelve have been destroyed and the hundred-year reign of darkness that descended upon the world has ended. The survivors are stepping outside their walls, determined to build society anew—and daring to dream of a hopeful future.
But far from them, in a dead metropolis, he waits: Zero. The First. Father of the Twelve. The anguish that shattered his human life haunts him, and the hatred spawned by his transformation burns bright. His fury will be quenched only when he destroys Amy—humanity’s only hope, the Girl from Nowhere who grew up to rise against him.
One last time light and dark will clash, and at last Amy and her friends will know their fate.
Like the previous installments, The City of Mirrors is a lengthy read at 624 pages, but it never feels like it bogs down. Cronin moves us across centuries and through a host of characters with ease, making them all feel fully alive and captivating.
There’s much to love here from the descriptions of the virals and their attacks to his vision of a post-apocalyptic United States, how much is lost and how quickly it all falls apart…but how resilience and determination bring it back. Shades of Earth Abides here.
His lengthy foray into Tim Fanning’s backstory is a novel in and of itself and one of the most evocative back stories for a villain that I’ve ever read. Cronin reminds us that even in the most nightmarish of enemies, we can find a core of humanity (often severely wounded) if we’re willing to look for it.
City of Mirrors ends in a way that I never expected it to (and I won’t spoil it here), but it blew the whole narrative wide open and added such depth to his reflections on humanity and what makes us human. The trilogy receives a dramatic payoff here that few novels of this genre are lucky enough to have.
If you’re anxiously awaiting or thinking about jumping into the series for the first time, it’s so worth it!!