At last, the vampire is scary again. In a world riddled with safe, even chaste, vampire stories, author Justin Cronin’s The Passage is restoring our fears of bloodsuckers. As a strange virus discovered deep in the jungles of Bolivia spurs a medical experiment with apocalyptic consequences, an ex-federal agent finds himself having to protect six-year-old Amy, who is, unwillingly, the crux of the world’s end.
Cronin’s 750-page epic is part literature, part gripping horror yarn, but most importantly it’s a vampire tale that doesn’t feel cheap. TIME talked to Cronin about his scope for catastrophe and the staying power of the vampire story. Read the interview HERE.