Edition 27: Book Review: The City of Mirrors (The Passage Trilogy) by Justin Cronin
Reviewed by Sophie Yorkston
After the decimation of the original twelve antivirals, The City of Mirrors continues hot on the heels of the settling dust.
Amy, who gave up her humanity to protect those who took her in, lives inside Carter’s world, where the crime he was incarcerated for was never committed. Her ever-faithful disciple Lucius ensures the two are fed.
The residents of the Republic of New Texas are no longer afraid the virals will return. They are spreading out to unprotected farms. Others may forget the past but the originals from First Colony wait, wary, even though twenty years of peace has dulled the edges of their survival instinct. Michael has never forgotten and he works with Lucius, on the last stage move, even as he gathers intelligence on what has happened to the rest of the world.
But unaccounted for is the original viral, Zero, formerly known as Professor Tim Fanning. It was clear that the battle for survival was never over. A breath was being drawn before the final showdown. A game plan laid out by the smartest of the virals, who has always had the time to wait, who knows the long game intimately. And all the reader can do is wait for the showdown.
The Passage Trilogy is a more original take on the vampire narrative: no sparkles or velvets and heaving bosoms here. The virals are ruthless and murderous, humanity’s most feared predator. This is the apocalyptic explosion. I have previously reviewed the other books in the series for SQ Mag, found in Editions 6 and 7.
The City of Mirrors is post-apocalyptic creature decimation, a slow build of impending doom, the last threads of the viral takeover interweaving with the gullibility of a humanity that believes the worst is over. When some of the story’s favourite children move out into the wilderness, the reader feels the summoning of the worst.
There’s a likening to rebirth in The City of Mirrors, but the virals are trapped in the pasts that they cannot change, as if at the moment of their transformation they truly gave up the evolution that is part of their humanity. Whether there is a chance for virals, for redemption, is part of what the book explores with Amy and Carter.
This book does not standalone. Despite a recap, an excerpt from the tales of life in this time, and despite having read the preceding books (some time ago; it’s been years since I read the last), you spend the first half of the book untangling the relationships, working to figure out the relevance of the to-and-fro of various characters. There’s an interesting anthropological element in the texts mentioned in all the books that comes to the fore in the epilogue.
If interested in reading this series. I’d recommend starting at the beginning with The Passage. What it does well is reveal human frailty, arrogance. The dark side of the worst of humanity is on full display—unsurprising when its deathrow inmates that were the first—contrasted against the callous pull for survival.
For readers of horror, especially those featuring hunting creatures, and apocalyptic fiction, The City of Mirrors and The Passage Trilogy come recommended for an involving read. If you can hold back the darkness.
If interested, the official website for the trilogy can be found at http://enterthepassage.com/
The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin
Publisher: Orion Books, 2016
Sophie is a scientist, aspiring writer, sci-fi and fantasy nerd. She is an editor with IFWG Publishing and has been Editor In Chief of SQ Mag and SQ Magazine, the previous incarnation. She also contributes book and film reviews. She is currently living in Vancouver, Canada.
You can find her in a few different places: @Smoph on Twitter, Sophie Yorkston – writer on Facebook, and at her blogs: Smoph’s Musings and Smoph Writes.