Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay



You know, I really don’t care for home invasion horror movies/books because that shit is way too scary–and not in a good way. Next to being eaten alive by a Great White (or my newest nightmare, a Megalodon), home-invasion is at the top of my greatest fears list. That said, I didn’t even think twice about reading this book because it’s penned by Paul Tremblay, the one contemporary horror author who knows exactly how to hit that sweet spot of terror! Read my review of Head Full of Ghosts and you’ll see what I mean.

Also, Stephen King talked me into it.

“A tremendous book―thought-provoking and terrifying, with tension that winds up like a chain. The Cabin at the End of the World is Tremblay’s personal best. It’s that good.” — Stephen King

So let’s talk about this winding chain of tension. I had to tear through this thing in a matter of hours because it just got weirder and weirder and I just needed to know where it was all going!  It’s like driving down a mountain with no breaks. I’m hit with so many blind corners, but if I keep a death grip on the steering wheel maybe I’ll reach the bottom where it’s safe and everything will be OK!

Like his previous books, horrible forces envelop a hapless all-American dysfunctional family. In this story, the family–comprised of a gay scholarly couple and their adopted daughter–is more functional than others.  Everything’s going great on their family vacation out in the woods…away from anyone who could hear them scream. The terror begins when a hulking stranger approaches the daughter while she’s out in the field experimenting with grasshoppers. Right from the get-go, his overly friendly demeaner seems just a tad off-putting. And just when the girl senses the red flags, more of his friends come out of the shadows–and they’re all brandishing homemade medieval weapons. He assures her that they aren’t going to hurt her, but that her family will have to make some very difficult decisions. Let the games begin!

What I thought would pan out like one of those cat-and mouse Purge movies, ended up being much more terrifying.  It’s what I consider to be a “chose your own adventure” story that leaves it up to the readers to decide if supernatural forces are at work or if these home-invaders are just a bunch of doomsday nutjobs.  I tell you what, after learning about the characters’ backstories and how they all found each other, I’m leaning toward the supernatural. But one never knows.

I’d love to go more into detail about the horrific happenings in that cabin, but I don’t want to reveal any spoilers. And if you want to jump on this rollercoaster ride, I suggest you go into it blind. Another piece of advice: Do not listen to this on audio because this is a story you’ll want to zip through at warp speed. There are some frustrating spots when the author interjects a suspenseful scene with a flashback to a character’s backstory. I’m a big fan of character development, but less is more when I’m glued to the pages, dying to see what happens with this alleged apocalyptic scenario!

Aside from that minor gripe, I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys suspense stories that end with a “What the hell just happened?” twist. The genius in Tremblay’s writing is that he doesn’t spell everything out to his readers. It’s up to us to ferret out the symbols and clues and tie them all together. To be honest, I still don’t have a solid theory about what went down. Maybe that’s the point. Not everything on this planet–or beyond–can be figured out and tied together in a neat little bow.