Seven-year-old Wen and her parents, Eric and Andrew, are vacationing at a remote cabin on a quiet New Hampshire lake. Their closest neighbors are more than two miles in either direction along a rutted dirt road.
One afternoon, as Wen catches grasshoppers in the front yard, a stranger unexpectedly appears in the driveway. Leonard is the largest man Wen has ever seen but he is young, friendly, and he wins her over almost instantly. Leonard and Wen talk and play until Leonard abruptly apologizes and tells Wen, “None of what’s going to happen is your fault”. Three more strangers then arrive at the cabin carrying unidentifiable, menacing objects. As Wen sprints inside to warn her parents, Leonard calls out: “Your dads won’t want to let us in, Wen. But they have to. We need your help to save the world.”
Thus begins an unbearably tense, gripping tale of paranoia, sacrifice, apocalypse, and survival that escalates to a shattering conclusion, one in which the fate of a loving family and quite possibly all of humanity are entwined. The Cabin at the End of the World is a masterpiece of terror and suspense from the fantastically fertile imagination of Paul Tremblay.
Home invasion stories can be terrifying, and A Cabin at the End of the World certainly has potential, but it fell a bit short for me.
The tension and suspense in the first several pages is intense, and I was on the edge of my seat anticipating a gripping read. While I found inquisitive Wen and her two dads, Andrew and Eric, to be a credible, loving family and their reactions to their situation absolutely believable, the repetition and needless details became too much. I skipped several pages, only to discover the characters still involved in the same conversation or flashback, and the suspense and pacing nearly come to a halt once the strangers enter the cabin.
I’ve read two other books by Paul Tremblay, Head Full of Ghosts and Disappearance at Devil’s Rock, and found both of them compelling. This book, however, didn’t work quite as well for me, and I think it would have been more enjoyable as a longer novella.
Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for the ARC.