I must start this review with the following statement: Robert McCammon is one of my all time favorite authors. His style is very evocative and realistic. I don’t really like to compare authors, but one thing I can say is, he is no Stephen King. By this I mean, Stephen King and Robert McCammon may have some slight similarities, but McCammon uses more locales for his stories than King does and, thus, would appeal to more readers.
Swan Song was written in 1987, during the Reagan presidency and the SDI. The reason that I feel this is important is because some King fans may want to compare it to The Stand which was written before 1987. Both books are very long (Swan Song is 965 pages long) and deal with a dystopic America. The Stand deals with a plague which ravages the country, while Swan Song is set in a post-nuclear America. I feel that Mr. McCammon did a better job with the material. I also feel that Mr. McCammon’s characters are more sympathetic. It is also the winner of the Bram Stoker Award.
The main villain of this novel is known as The Man with the Scarlet Eye, i.e. Satan, who is searching for a little girl named Swan. Swan has an extraordinary gift in that she can bring dead plants back to life. The Man hates her because she brings hope to people with her ability while he only seeks chaos and destruction. There are other characters who congregate around both of them. Josh, a former pro wrestler, is charged with protecting Swan and is helped in this by a former bag lady known as Sister. Sister is the guardian of a glass and jewel circlet which causes anyone who touches it to see wonderful things. The Man, however, becomes the leader of a ragtag army which destroys any survivors and their small towns.
Some readers may object to the use of racist terms and swearing, but it is definitely a book that will keep the reader enthralled. I can say with confidence that this book is very worthy of 5 stars.