“People think evil is easy to spot. They think of evil and imagine a monster. They imagine the Devil with horns, something obvious and identifiable. But sometimes evil looks just like the kid next door.”–Duncan Swan, Monster” Volume One
Duncan Swan’s terrifying novel, Monstre: Volume One, is out today. The compelling, often gut-wrenching novel marks Swan’s debut, and sets him apart as author to watch.
Set in the present, the novel begins at the CERN lab in Sweden where a sudden and inexplicable explosion occurs. In the fallout of that explosion, the air becomes toxic, a massive cloud begins spreading across Europe blocking out the sun, and strange creatures emerge the darkness.
The story is told in two time frames, jumping back and forth from ground zero in Europe and 90 days later as the cloud inches toward the Eastern Seaboard of the U.S. and frantic citizens who already witnessed the destruction in across the Atlantic decide how to deal with the terror knocking at their door. With no known hope of survival, will they turn on each other or come together to survive?
Swan does not spare a single moment blending apocalyptic and cosmic horrors and drawing the reader into the novel. He lets us know, almost immediately, that absolutely no one is safe in this scenario. Not every character you connect with is going to survive this. The problem is that he writes his characters so well, it’s hard to remain detached. Even the most unlikable characters–and believe me when I tell you there are plenty–are compelling in their own way.
The other thing the author does exceptionally well is handling details and description. He seems to have an innate talent for giving his reader just what they need to set the imagination on fire. This works for him both in the realm of dealing with his monsters and what they might look like, but also in doling out the inevitable gore that comes from human encounters with them.
Like early John Carpenter films, Swan gives us just enough to make us think we’re experiencing so much more gore than we really are. He trusts that he does not have to spell out every little detail for the reader, and his instincts are impeccable.
Like any apocalyptic novel, Monstre: Volume One is not so much about the looming apocalypse itself as it is the people who are experiencing it. It is the humanity, or lack thereof, that keeps the pages turning. Swan presents his readers with numerous moral questions along the way, and the answers to those questions are not always comfortable.
Who do you leave behind? Is one life more important than any other? When do you trust your instincts and when do you listen to others?
The answers to those questions are never easy, nor should they be, and Swan writes in such a way that there are times you almost feel like you’re in the author’s chair making the decisions. I don’t mind admitting to you that I chose poorly once or twice while reading.
Monstre: Volume One is out today with volume two expected mid-year in 2021. Fans of Stephen King’s The Mist will no doubt want to add this excellent novel to their libraries. Get your copy by CLICKING HERE.
If you’re interested in hearing more about the novel from the author himself, Duncan Swan is hosting a special live event this afternoon/evening at 5 pm PT on Facebook. Details for the event can be found here!