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

“You are a beautiful person, inside and out. One of the most beautiful people I’ve ever met, Wen. Your family is perfect and beautiful, too. Please know that. This isn’t about you. It’s about everyone.”

The Cabin at the End of the World is an unusual kidnap / home intruder type story with an apocalyptic twist. Wen and her dads, Andrew and Eric, are on holiday at a remote cabin when four strangers appear. And there begins one of the strangest and most difficult to summarise books I’ve ever read.

I’ve never read a book like it. It is so tense, and the slow pace makes you feel like you are really there, in the cabin, living this nightmare in real time. It’s a book where not a lot happens, but what does is brilliant; they spend a lot of time working through the situation and the decisions. Normally, this would not be my idea of a good time, but Paul makes this work and it never feels like it is lacking anything for the slow pace and the tight plot. It is the kind of book you want to swallow whole but are scared to finish.

The Cabin at the End of the World is a book that plays hard on your emotions. Despite there not being a huge amount of action, there is a lot of character development. We learn a lot about Wen, her adoption and the things she has been through. Her dads are so fiercely protective of her, and even when faced with this hideous situation, she is the first and only thing they’re concerned about. I loved them so much. We also learn about the four strangers in the cabin, a little of their backgrounds and gradually enough to piece together why they are there doing what they are doing.

The action there is is swift and brutal, there are some genuine shocks and real heartbreaking moments. It is a very clever book that treads a fine line between this being a real threat and not, and I spent the entire book swaying between the two.

It’s not my usual kind of read, but I picked it up when a book seller friend recommended it. It sounded intriguing, but like a lot of books, it sat on my shelves a long while because there was always something else to read first. I went into this with relatively low expectations, thinking it would take me a while to get into; I don’t often read adult books, and especially not those in the horror section. But the person who recommended it has great taste, so I was prepared to be surprised. I wasn’t prepared to be blown away. I inhaled this in one (late) night and it left me tired, shocked and reeling.

If you like to be surprised, shocked, horrified, and left reeling at the end of your books, this is definitely the book for you!

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