Book Review: The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay


Title: The Cabin at the End of the World

Author: Paul Tremblay

Release date: June 26, 2018

Very rarely do I go into any books with any sense of trepidation. More often than note, I go in by briefly reading the synopsis or having someone comment or message that if I liked X I would probably like Y.

‘The Cabin at the End of the World’ is a book that I see a lot of chatter about. Over on Facebook, it’ll often be brought up on the Books of Horror group. Someone will ask what people thought of it and there will be several hundred responses ranging from BEST BOOK EVERRRR!! to HATED IT!!

In my own social media bubble, I’ve developed a friendship with George Rason. On Twitter he is known as Book Monster aka sshh_ImReading aka the world’s biggest Tremblay fan. He’s always insisted I should read this book and give it a fair shake.

Which is how I approach every book, no matter what I’ve heard.

So, I dove into Mr. Tremblay’s book, which won the Best Horror Novel Award in the 2019 Bram Stoker Awards.

What I liked: Recently, I have fallen in love with the seemingly sparse detailed books. Those books that create a sense of anxiety and dread from page one, all the while you never know just what is happening in the larger world around them. ‘All Hail the House Gods’ by Andrew J. Stone. ‘Foe’ by Iain Reid,’ ‘Night Train’ by David Quantick and ‘Armageddon House’ by Michael Griffin immediately jump to the front of my mind.

‘The Cabin at the End of the World’ is another book in that seemingly post-apocalyptic style where something major is happening in the macro, but the story focuses on the micro. In this readers opinion, Tremblay does it masterfully.

The story follows the two dad’s, Andrew and Eric and their adopted daughter Wen. They’ve rented a cabin in the middle of nowhere to unwind and decompress. That is, until one day, four strangers show up and tell them, a decision must be made to prevent the world from ending.

We get seven total characters in this book and Jesus does Tremblay work them to the max. House/cabin invasion stories are always tension filled, but Paul decides to add in an existential additive with the ‘four horsemen’ of the apocalypse narrative and the harrowing thoughts of family sacrificing family for the greater good.

I loved the internal narrative monologues that he gave the reader, each person struggling with their current situation as well as the world at large.

This book also goes from chaos to carnage at the flip of the switch time and time again and some of these scenes are so brutal, it will make you cringe.

For me, personally, I thought the ending was sublime. This seems to be the make-it or break-it point of the book for most people, but I thought it worked out exactly how the story had went. We get a little not a lot.

What I didn’t like: Oddly, the only thing I really wasn’t a huge fan of was the Sabrina chapter closer to the end. I found the 1st person POV shift a bit jarring and the entirety of the chapter is almost a complete run on sentence of rambling thought. I does work well for the story over-all, but for me it was a bit of an abrupt shift.

Why you should buy this: Tremblay is a stunning writer and it’s insanity to really think this is my first book of his I’ve read. The book is sweat inducing and I couldn’t stop reading it. This was a book that I couldn’t wait to dive back into whenever I wasn’t reading it. I love when a book keeps you guessing about what is to come, even if you start to formulate your own answers to questions not yet asked.

I absolutely ate this book up and truly loved it. Mileage on the ending of each reader may vary, but for me, personally, I thought it was pitch-perfect.


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