by Justin Cronin
“Behind every great hatred is a love story.”
A complex cast of characters fulfilling its calling brings the trilogy to a magnificent end. Such a massive, apocalyptic series concentrating on just a couple of generations is a bit tricky, though the history of events is well-mapped in all the right ways, but it works perfectly for a series of books you can truly lose yourself in, and categorization like that isn’t made lightly. The final pages swell with heart, and intimacy with characters built over lifetimes enhances gravitas. You’ll feel like you’ve known them your entire life, and also like a long-running epic vampire western you’ve been following for decades concludes exactly how it should.
On the subject of intimacy with the characters, both preceding books have sections that dive deeply into the experiences and thought processes of various players, but The City of Mirrors features an in-depth study of the origin of Patient Zero that is especially noteworthy. The series excels at alternating between modern events and those of the original calamity, but here the author chooses to go deep into the history of the thing that started it all, and because of it we’re treated to an experience invoking Dickens, completely forgetting we’re in the middle of a horror novel and providing an especially striking section to an extraordinary series.
While book 2, The Twelve, improved on the original by a good margin in terms of flow, this 3rd book edges it out. The trilogy is exceptionally well-written and comes with high recommendations, and if folks around you ever mention horror as a ‘summer read,’ bash them over the head with Justin Cronin. When they come to, hit ‘em again, because these 600,000+ words need to be savored like The Lord of the Rings– not glossed over. It succeeds at being as epic as it wants to be.
“We are the knife of the world, clamped between God’s teeth.”
The City of Mirrors was the best of a comprehensive, apocalyptic horror trilogy, and within the genre it’s at the opposite end of the spectrum of torture porn and splatterpunk. This is literary without being pompous, and horror is rarely this rich.
*pics to follow when CD’s edition is published