There is no stopping it. The Cloud is armageddon, steamrolling the world at a walking pace. In his thrilling debut novel Monstre, author D...

Review || Monstre by Duncan Swan

There is no stopping it.

The Cloud is armageddon, steamrolling the world at a walking pace.

In his thrilling debut novel Monstre, author Duncan Swan crafts a relentless, terrifying, genre-bending tale of courage, desperation, and redemption that shows just how fragile our civilization is... and how far we will go to survive.

Day 0. From the wreckage of a research facility in Switzerland, a plume of toxic smoke and ash pours into the sky, forming an impenetrable cloud that is slowly smothering the world in darkness. As Europe disappears beneath the Cloud, a squad of United States Marines are sent on a desperate mission to find out what went wrong, and how to undo it before it's too late. Venturing into a cold, dark world, the Marines must travel deep under the Cloud, with no comms, no backup, and no idea of what they will face.

Day 89. Half a world away, the Cloud has reached the East Coast of the U.S. With nowhere to run and no hope of survival, the American people have descended into madness, turning on themselves and each other. From the sidelines, an old Tennessee sheriff watches as his country unravels. But he can't bring himself to take the easy way out. Quitting isn't in his DNA. So when one of his deputies asks him to help protect her family, he leads them west, chasing a miracle-a rumor of an old nuclear bunker that just may be their only hope for survival. Because if the Cloud doesn't kill them, what's hiding in the dark will.


Monstre is the debut apocalyptic novel from Duncan Swan and what a brazen debut it is. It begins with a bang—literallyin a nuclear research facility underground in Meyrin, Switzerland where scientists are searching for the "god" particle in a Large Hadron Collider. Something goes exceedingly wrong and the facility is destroyed in a series of energy spikes and explosions and a billowing black cloud begins deliberately smothering the world. 

"...somehow their work had created a bomb, or a black hole, or something that behaved a little like both."

The novel then transitions point of view between seven main characters from various backgrounds and two continents over the course of the book—all either caught under the black cloud making its way across the world or attempting to outrun it. Monstre also jumps time points, often. The reader finds themselves at day 1 one moment and day 91 the next. Regardless of what character or moment you might find yourself in, there's no lack of action. In fact, this novel grabs you by throat from the very beginning and doesn't let go. 

Monstre is smart. It grips you from the get-go, gets you invested in its characters, and then crushes all their hopes and dreams while you watch in wide-eyed disbelief. It's a claustrophobic, palm-sweating doomed nightmare. It's genre-defying as well, twisting science fiction and horror seamlessly throughout. While you might be tempted to call it post-apocalyptic horror for simplicity's sake, Monstre is so much more. Enmeshed with military warfare, this bleak and desperate end of days tale delivers survivors, predators, and seekers eeking another second of existence against all odds in this terrifying new world of monster and man. 

If you are worried that an intelligent horror novel may not be engaging enough, there is no worry here. You shouldn't get too attached to any of Monstre's cast because no character is shielded from awful, horrible brutality.  The gore is never-ending, ripping and tearing, splashing and running red. Death just might be preferable to what the characters endure from beast and human alike. Just when you think it will end and you will finally see some shred of perseverance, it does... The book, that is. Monstre makes no secret of the fact that it is a continuing series so if cliffhangers frustrate you prepare to throw your copy across the room.  This is one debut you don't want to miss.