The Cabin at the End of the World
A NoveleBook - 2018
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From the critics
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“No matter how bleak or dire, end-of-the-world scenarios appeal to us because we take meaning from the end... there's also undeniable allure to witnessing the beginning of the end and perishing alone with everyone and everything else.”
“Too many people have smiles that don’t mean what a smile is supposed to mean.”
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It’s spooky season! That means it’s time to devour the books that give us nightmares. And, boy, did I pick the right book for that job this year. Paul Tremblay’s *The Cabin at the End of the World* is possibly the scariest book I’ve read.
It opens with a family on vacation, deep in the idyllic woods at a rustic cabin. The woods are so deep that there is no cell reception. There are no neighbours. There is, however, a beautiful view of a lake from the mountain. It’s the perfect place to unwind, or so think Eric and Andrew, who have travelled there with their young daughter Wen.
While Eric and Andrew enjoy a drink on the back porch, a man approaches their daughter in the front yard. He is followed by three other people, all carrying homemade weapons. Their message for the family? Unless Eric, Andrew and Wen choose one of their family to be sacrificed, the apocalypse will begin, and all the world’s suffering will be their fault.
The plot marries end-times anxiety with the struggle we all share discerning the truth of things in our post-truth, conspiracy-rich media environment. It’s almost impossible to tell who’s right: The armed visitors contending that the world is ending, or Andrew’s assertion that they’re just four psychopaths capitalizing on a bad news cycle. Tremblay plays mercilessly on any shreds of religiosity or superstition residing in the reader to build tension between the narratives. Maybe more ruthlessly, Tremblay forces us to watch the action through the eyes of each character, meaning the reader at times has empathy for some of the visitors, too. The result is mind-bending, and impossible to put down. Also, a content warning: if you have a hard time reading about children in horrific situations, this may not be the book for you.
This book was so terrifying I had nightmares every night I picked it up, and tried to quit it twice. Both times, the spellbinding ambiguity of the clever, relentless plot sucked me back in. *The Cabin at the End of the World* is the perfect Halloween read for anyone who loves thrillers, tolerates gore, and isn’t currently at the cottage.
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