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Robert McCammon's Swan Song is Unparalleled Post-Apocalyptic Horror

In the wake of a nuclear holocaust, a professional wrestler becomes the sole protector of the world's only hope for survival—a 9-year-old psychic.


Since its publication in the late 1980s, fans of Robert McCammon’s Swan Song have called it one of the best, most frightening end-of-the-world novels ever written. Considering it was recently voted one of America's 100 favorite books, it's a sentiment shared by the entire country. Massive in scope, heavy on sci-fi horror, and starring a cast of complex characters, it's a disturbing adventure that earned Robert McCammon the Edgar Award in 1987.

Despite the comparisons drawn between Swan Song and Stephen King’s The Stand, McCammon's tale of satanic evil, nuclear disaster, and a peculiar girl-heroine is a post-apocalyptic story all its own.


The novel opens in an unspecified year, just months after the fall of Afghanistan. Allies have severed ties, once-thriving countries lay in ruin, and the American-Soviet conflict has reached a dangerous head. When a nuclear holocaust strikes the U.S., the devastation is on a scale far grander than anyone has ever seen.

Amidst the chaos is Swan Song’s titular heroine, Sue “Swan” Wanda, a 9-year-old trailer park girl with a single mother. Gardening is one of her greatest talents, but her green thumb goes far beyond growing flowers and eradicating weeds—it may just be the key to the world's salvation.

In the following excerpt, Swan and her mother have fled an abusive boyfriend and stop at PawPaw’s gas station. They meet professional wrestler Josh Hutchins who, despite his reputation as the terrifying "Black Frankenstein," shows an immediate compassion towards young Swan. Little do they know, this little roadside pitstop is about take the brunt of another nuclear attack—one that will make Josh the girl's sole protector and guardian. Together, this unlikely duo will set out across America, encountering other survivors as Swan harnesses her gifts and faces an evil bent on total annihilation...

Click here to read an excerpt of Swan Song by Robert McCammon, and then download the book.

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Featured photo: Cover of "Swan Song," 2009 edition