Note: If you have not read the first two books of the trilogy, The Passage and The Twelve, fire your book advisor and get it on it. Now!
The City of Mirrors is the concluding book of Justin Cronin’s Passage Trilogy. What a trilogy it has been. The first book, The Passage, was released in 2010. My 16 yr old son and I devoured it and fought for possession of the copy from the library. We both finished it in wonder. As in “wonder what is going to happen next” as well as wonder as in awestruck. The Twelve was released in 2012 and it was well worth the two year wait. Again my son and I enjoyed it immensely and were eager for the next book. Finally (no disrespect to Mr. Cronin intended) in 2016 The City of Mirrors is releasing in June. By some wonderful twist of fate, I scored an Advance Review Copy through NetGalley. My review is spoiler free.
While my son was in Houston at the 4C’s conference, I was sending him pictures of the cover of the book and basically squealing in text message as I dove in. If you read the first two books, you know that there are very few times or places where the characters are safe. But a few of those safe moments do exist and they give the reader an opportunity to breathe. The City of Mirrors, not so much. It is constant tension and fear. It is standing on the railroad tracks at night blindfolded. You can hear the train, you know it is coming but you cannot not see it. That is what the plot of this book was like. I knew it was going to be intense but even very intense is an understatement.
The City of Mirrors picks up approximately twenty years after the end of The Twelve. Time and events have changed everyone, not necessarily for the better. There is a complacency among many people with only a very few who witnessed the events of the first two books being more on guard. I found that within a few chapters I was not sure who I could trust anymore from the original set of characters. It was unsettling to not trust characters I had cheered for through two books but something was just off. The reader as well as a few characters could feel something was approaching.
When I hit the point where I was forgetting to breathe, I would take a break and pick the book back up again. I wanted to devour it in one setting but the lack of breathing destroyed that plan. I persisted, a few chapters at a time, and was rewarded by being able to absorb what I was reading better. I will be rereading City of Mirrors multiple times as I have the first two from the trilogy.
Mr. Cronin’s prose is beautiful. Unfortunately I am not allowed to include any quotes due to Netgalley rules. Trust me on this one. His descriptions are lush and full. The atmosphere he creates is palpable. The characters are more complex than before. The best part, the most amazing part, is how well The City of Mirrors concludes the trilogy. It all fits together perfectly. There are no loose ends, no parts that feel like it was pushed to fit into something from the first book. It is as though the trilogy is one seamless book, written in one sitting. The story flows perfectly from the first to the last book.
Many times series can lose their magic or the reader’s attention. It is difficult to sustain such a high quality of writing over several books instead of one stand alone. But Mr. Cronin has done just that. The magic spell he first cast over my son and I six years ago, with a girl named Amy and her story, continued to enchant till the very end.