At first glance, this doorstep sized novel (over 900 pages) might appear to be a daunting read. The blurb warns of an apocalypse and hints at the role that a special little girl would play afterwards. She is Amy Harper Bellafonte and she is the key to something. And that something is the reason the FBI abducts her from the convent her biological mother left her with, and take her to a secret testing facility. Without giving too much away, it seems that her immune system is special and they wish to investigate her in conjunction with another project involving death row inmates at the same facility. Shortly after her arrival, hell literally breaks loose leaving Amy and her abductor running for their lives. The Vampire Apocalypse is here…
As a young girl, it is without doubt that I would compare her to Ayla (the heroine of Earth’s Children) and Lyra (His Dark Materials); Amy is no Ayla but she’s no Lyra either. As a girl who grew up alone she lacks the social skills, keeps a childhood innocence yet is wise despite her years. I loathe to elaborate further because I wouldn’t want to spoil her development as a character which is revealed with deliberate caution. She is an enigma and Cronin wants us to experience this along with the people she encounters. But I will say that she is a walking metaphor and I am still trying to piece together everything I think Cronin was trying to say in this book.
Cronin proves that plot and characterisation need not be mortal enemies. Despite its length the story moves quickly and for literary work it flows well. Most of all it has great atmosphere. The tagline of the novel is Something is coming… and that is how the narrative flows, the hint of a threat of what is going to happen next and that’s what keeps you turning the page. It is a book about portents and fate.
This is easily one of the best novels I’ve read this year.