File this short novel under the “mind-blowing, mind-boggling, weird horror” category. There. It’s done. Attempting to classify I Dream of Mirrors is nearly impossible to explain or put into a genre box.
Translated: it’s one of the cool, weird stories that can be called horror, dark fantasy, sci-fi, or bizarre fiction. Readers who crave the out-there settings and characters of Jeff Vandermeer, Neil Gaiman, and John Langan will find plenty to lose themselves in here with a tale that, while being heady and intelligent, keeps itself grounded.
Kurt finds himself awake in a world that has suddenly changed after an apocalypse caused by a manic billionaire who has brought change through technological brainwashing. The “People” who have been affected at first appear to be zombies but, thankfully, are anything but. Instead, they’re willing participants in Dunwoody’s new world order that harkens back to a 1984 motif. The ones who resist are the outsiders—those who have crushing pasts that leave them struggling to survive. Kurt teams up with Kat to battle the People and Dunwoody, along with a bevy of other odd characters, each with his or her own mind-bending backstory.
At the heart of this story is a search for identity, as Kurt has no recollection of his life before the change, not who he was or what he did. The transmissions from Dunwoody’s tower and hallucinations attempt to convince him that he’s merely a part of the system, a figment of humanity’s imagination that never existed in the physical world.
What could be considered an exercise in finding one’s identity morphs into something that reaches much deeper, yet still can be completed in one surreal sitting.
What helps raise I Dream of Mirrors above the mass of weird fiction floating through the stratosphere is Chris Kelso’s writing. He crafts every sentence into something that both engages the reader and detaches them from reality. Add him to a very short list of newer authors to place on the “must read” list.