Mostly fabulous finale to what has been a gripping, impossible-to-put-down  trilogy. Bring on the movies!

justin croninIt’s a couple of years late, but The City of Mirrors – the eagerly awaited finale to the best-selling The Passage trilogy – has finally landed.

A word of warning: only tackle this if you have read the first two. To attempt to find your way through it without that knowledge would be madness.

Mirrors opens 1000 years in the future, at a conference in Australia. So we know the human race survives (and given how many people die, that’s not necessarily a given).

The viral apocalypse has become a matter of archaeology, religion and endless speculation.

The religious/archeological themes brought to mind the brilliant A Canticle for Leibowitz, and that’s no surprise. Cronin has referenced classic horror and fantasy novels right through his trilogy, starting most noticeably with Stephen King’s The Stand. While the references are clear, it has never felt derivative. It’s more like a homage, or even meta-genre.

Then back to the action. With the last attacks from the virals now years in the past, the human colony has started to relax and think about moving outside the walls. We, of course, know it’s not over.

Cronin, at this stage, diverts into a long section on the back story of “Zero”, Tim Fanning, the arch-baddie of them all. It’s quite a change of pace, but interesting in charting the development of a super-powered psychopath.

And then the end game really cranks up. The tension and the horror build page by page, as the forces of darkness mass and the out-matched humans gather for a last stand. It’s been done before (echoes of the last Lord of the Rings, for one), but Cronin does it brilliantly.

The comprehensive wrap up at the end will be a bit too neat for some, but I found it both moving and satisfying. It is going to make an amazing movie series.

The City of Mirrors was published in May 2016. This review was also published in the Herald Sun’s Weekend magazine