Book Review: The Phenomenon

It’s hard to have a truly original idea in fiction. Especially in the horror space, I think, we end up pulling from the same cultural encyclopedia built from decades of pop-culture and centuries of mythology. I’ll say this much for this week’s book: The Phenomenon presents a truly unique set of cosmic terrors and existential threats. It’s post-apocalyptic fiction at its most apocalyptic.

Let’s talk about it.

The Basics:

Title: The Phenomenon
Author: RK Katic
Genre: Horror, Science Fiction, Post-apocalyptic fiction
Published: RK Katic, 2017

Spoiler-Free Summary:

Without warning or preamble not one, but two otherworldly terrors descend on our planet. They systematically eradicate the population, catching victims between them like a hammer and anvil. The sky is filled with swarms of shards. To touch or look upon them is instant death. With the thin remnants of humanity isolated and hiding, another threat arrives: invulnerable, unstoppable giants which generate auras of sub-freezing temperatures. These intelligent malevolent beasts systematically hunt and kill or capture all human survivors for an unknown purpose, probably (definitely) related to the strange excavations they open around the world.

The Phenomenon follows the members of The Project, a clandestine government plan to preserve humanity through an apocalypse. They are professors, spies, soldiers, scientists, and artists. No one survivor experiences the whole truth of the phenomenon. The truth is slowly revealed to the reader through brief flashes, snapshots of the faintest outline of the whole. Just when you think you know what’s going on, the world turns on its head. To give you more would ruin the surprise, dear reader. You’ll have to check it out for yourself.

Photo by cottonbro studio on

Why You Will Love This Book:

I’ll start with the glass-half-empty view, for full transparency. You won’t find a deeply personal tale of loss and survival in The Phenomenon. The scope is so wide, and so many characters enter to keep it progressing, there is little space to deeply explore their backgrounds or give any one point-of-view character a true arc. I’ve heard The Road is great, if that’s what you’re looking for. The main character of The Phenomenon is the phenomenon.

That being said, The Phenomenon is a worldbuilder’s dream. It is well-researched and richly detailed. The scenario is genuinely terrifying and often surprising. It is unrelenting in the horrors it dumps on its characters. It is pure, concentrated existential dread. The two types of visitors have no weaknesses. Survivors can run. They can hide. They can avoid them… but any who stand against them or get too curious meet an untimely and gruesome end.

If you find yourself itching for a sweeping, epic, scifi-horror crossover, give The Phenomenon a go.

Where Can You Learn More:

The backstory of The Phenomenon itself is intriguing. It began as a reddit thread around 2015, posting one chapter at a time through 2017. As of this writing, the subreddit hosts 21.3 members. It appears to have continued to spawn content, including a podcast and a related title, called The Fall of Man.

Happy Reading, folks.

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