This is the third and final novel in Cronin’s vampire trilogy (or as I like to think of it: Cronin’s vampire trilogy for people who actually aren’t too fussed on vampires but just enjoy a big epic story).
The first novel, ‘The Passage’, introduced us to the vampire plague and then jumped forward 100 years as the last vestiges of humanity desperately try to hold on to their grip on the world. The second novel, ‘The Twelve’, showed how the best and worst of humanity endured and clashed as the vampire menace came to a peak (it has vibes similar to that of Stephen King’s ‘The Stand’). The third and final novel, ‘The City of Mirrors’, skips forward another 30 years and focuses our attention back on Patient Zero of the vampire plague, the mysterious menace still at large decades after humanity thought the vampire threat had passed.
In the time since ‘The Twelve’ finished, the last of humanity has grown complacent. With no vampire sightings for three decades, the settlement at Kerrville has been somewhat abandoned as survivors spread across the land. The lights have been turned off, the walls no longer manned. People are beginning to strike out into the frontier of America and attempt to work the land, make a life, define a new ‘normal’. However, in a crumbling New York City, the original and largely forgotten patient of the vampire plague, Zero, continues to dwell.
The first third of this novel is devoted to Zero’s tale. Who was he before he became infected? It felt like reading a novella and could have been its own stand-alone story. It tells of the man, Fanning, before he became Zero. It was a contained yet compelling backstory, and set up the final tense showdowns (yes, plural) beautifully.
And WHAT a series of tense showdowns! I was gripped as the tension of the final battles grew and grew, and the stakes have never been higher.
The tale told by Cronin across these three books spans over 1000 years in total, over a dozen heros, and over a dozen villains. It could have been a completely overworked mess. It could have eaten its own ass (I’m looking at you, The Dark Tower. I love you, but what the HECK.). Yet it closes each story, each chapter, and each arc with care and satisfyingly follows up on each breadcrumb. The characters – ‘goodies’, ‘baddies’, and otherwise – are carefully and lovingly crafted.
It’s been a long time since I reached the end of a series and sighed with contentment. But that is what happened here. What a delight.
For this final book, let’s keep the streak alive: 5 enchanting piano tunes out of 5.