Book Review: The Ferryman by Justin Cronin


Book Review: The Ferryman by Justin Cronin

Any Justin Cronin release is an event. The books of the Passage trilogy are among my favorites (oh, that first hundred pages), and The Ferryman shows the author at the top of his form with this stand-alone.

His latest resonates with the motifs readers will recognize from his earlier works: falling, the wonder of stars, fathers and daughters, grief.

Cronin’s work is often that of return and reevaluation, and these narrative echoes deepen his themes and their effect on the audience. The payoff of a specific sequence of foreshadowing, for example, had me in tears as it opened up my understanding of what he was orchestrating in the larger story.

The Ferryman examines big existential questions, and Cronin is particularly adept at using the micro to suggest the macro, and vice versa. In a work that largely hinges on the characters’ attempts to understand their reality, it would have been easy to lose the grounding that keeps the reader invested, but the story never loses its narrative drive (and this with a protagonist who is necessarily not always likable).

Cronin is a true prose stylist. The man flat-out knows his way around a semicolon, and the most startling element of the author’s craft is that you’d stop every other moment to admire his turns of phrase if you weren’t so consistently absorbed by the story.

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