Elitist Classic: Swan Song

Posted: August 29, 2012 by in Elitist Classics Meta: Robert McCammon, Horror

Believe it or not, a lot of thought goes into our selection of Elitist Classics.  Our selection of Classics goes beyond our personal likes and dislikes. The funny thing is how, many times, each member of the EBR crew will say, “This is totally a Classic!”… and none of the others have read it. And by others I usually mean me. Especially in the realms of Science Fiction.  The reason? Heck if I know. I think I tend to focus on new releases, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

I was looking over our previous posts, and I realized how little we had in terms of Elitist Classics in the Horror genre. This was my opportunity to broaden my reading a bit, and, you know, do something useful for the site!

I’m not ashamed–not even the tiniest bit–to admit that I’ve been on a Robert McCammon kick lately. McCammon is an incredible writer, and an even better person. I’m sure you all had the chance to get a peek of that yourselves with his interview that I conducted here a bit ago. The man is a legend.

McCammon wrote his apocalypse story with SWAN SONG (Amazon). This story is huge in size and scope, and is truly epic. It is Epic Horror. Yeah. I said it.

The story begins with the US on the brink of WWIII, and a standoff between us and Russia. The tension is palpable, and it manages to refrain from feeling dated even though this novel was originally published over 20 years ago. Nuclear war happens, and the world is left dead and ruined. We get the PoVs of Swan, Josh, Sister and Roland as they make their way across the toxic nation, pursued by a power of pure evil.

The moment I realized how much I was digging this book was when I kept thinking, “Geez, I’d love to see that scene commissioned to be painted by a pro.” There is just so much beautiful and terrible imagery in SWAN SONG, that I couldn’t help nod my head in appreciation. There are tear-jerking moments, and ones that make you want to cheer.

SWAN SONG is huge in size and scope and is truly epic. It's Epic Horror. Yeah. I said it. And it drives hard all the way to the finish line. Read this book

Where other large apocalyptic novels lose steam and focus, I never once felt that SWAN SONG didn’t have a direction. In fact, it was the ever present feeling that everything was heading towards a massive confrontation that made this huge novel pass by like I was reading a book half it’s length.

If you want good, classic horror, look no further than McCammon. Give SWAN SONG a shot. I think you’ll be pleasantly pleased.

  • Recommended Age: 17+
  • Language: Tons
  • Violence: Holy crap. Tons. Lots of death and destruction. Its a HORROR novel.
  • Sex: Yup


  • Murphy7 says:

    I saw this in the store the other day, when I was looking for a copy of Patient Zero for a friend. I'll definitely make this my next acquisition.

  • Ric Evans says:

    I read swan Song when it was published, fully expecting a good read as I was already a McCammon fan. It blew me away, fully. I read it in two days. Yes, two days, and I have since read it twice more. Mr. McCammon is, as you said, an incredible writer, one of my all-time favorites, and this novel will stand as one of the all-time great apocalyptic stories.

  • Binq says:

    I definitely agree that this is a work of classic proportions. Mr. McCammon writes a fabulous tale that could easily surpass anything that has been created in the horror/apocalyptic genre. I have always said I would love to see this made into a movie, and I think it would win over fans of The Stand in a millisecond. While I agree that Boys Life is a wonderful read, my other favorite of Mr. McCammon's is Mystery Walk. I have read and re-read that one several times as well, and it still holds up as a classic in its own right.

  • Bob Milne says:

    I read this years ago, between King's original edition of The Stand and the complete/uncut edition. Definitely one of my all-time favourites.

  • Ill-Used Heroine says:

    Swan Song has been one of my favorite books since the day it was published. McCammon's Boys Life is another favorite.

  • Benjamin Rafuse says:

    I have read almost every single one of his books (save the couple recent ones) and have always recommended this book to everyone. I believe this and Boys Life are his best books are need to read by everyone. I cannot compliment Mr. McCammon's writing enough in this book. It's a gripping tale that I tore through in 2 days. I've never read a book this thick that fast!

  • Book_Hollow says:

    I really need to read this one! Great review 🙂

  • Carol says:

    This is my favorite of his, have read it at least 10 times over the last twenty years.

  • guessingo says:

    I have not read this yet. Why is it considered horror? I think apocalyptic books are considered sci-fi?

    • Post-apocalyptic can be considered SF. But not in this case. It all has to do with the aftermath. This novel takes place during and after the apocalypse, and deals with people living in terrible situations where they try to adjust. Again, if novel picked up 50 years after the world-ending event, I could see SF.

      Also, it's Horror because of the author and how he writes it. It has to do with the way the McCammon writes the story. Make no mistake, this is Horror. Brilliant Horror.

    • hahabook says:

      The book has extreme fantasy elements and a big bad bad guy that encapsulates all evil in the world. I feel horror works to describe this book due to how tragic the themes are and how descriptive and gorey the writing is.

  • Tracy says:

    Definitely my favorite book…….I just want to go on record saying this book needs to be made into a movie. I'd love to see it done the right way too! How do we go about getting someone to make it happen?

  • Chrisito says:

    This Book was simply stunning! Robert painted such a Vivid picture in all of his scenes. I knew from how I felt when Josh poked his hand out of the soil from the remnants of the station, that I was in for a fantastic ride! The book never never slowed down once and I was almost exhausted after I read it. The imagery and the mix of emotions from all the different scenes was just amazing! I am very hard pressed to think of a single other book that has made me feel this way in 30 years of reading. It was that good

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