Paul Tremblay’s The Cabin at the End of the World (Titan) opens as seven-year-old Wen is collecting grasshoppers outside her family’s remote New Hampshire cabin. She knows she shouldn’t speak to the friendly stranger who arrives – an unusually large man called Leonard – but she chats to him for a while, until, even to her young mind, things start to feel a little wrong. When his “friends” arrive, bearing makeshift weapons, she runs to find her parents, Daddy Eric and Daddy Andrew, and her little family are catapulted into a nightmare … Tremblay skilfully keeps his readers guessing about the reality of Leonard’s ominous warning as he lets his horrifying scenario play out.
Read Paul Tremblay's new novel, The Cabin at the End of the World, and you might not sleep for a week. Longer. It will shape your nightmares for months–that's pretty much guaranteed. That's what it's built for. And there's a very, very good chance you'll never get it out of your head again ... I want to tell you everything about it. I want to detail every switchback and psychological reverse that happens, deconstruct how Tremblay layers in these genius feints of paranoia and disbelief, explain how he builds to these perfect trigger points where everything explodes into blood and violence, then settles, then starts again. I want to, but I can't. It would ruin it. There is a meticulousness to The Cabin that depends entirely on the slow reveal; on the tension of misunderstanding and inherent bias.
I had to put the book down. It was later than I'd intended to stay up, my partner was asleep and begging for the light to be turned off, and my heart had walked directly out of my throat and into the middle of the busy road next to my apartment building. For the first time since I watched The Cabin in the Woods (sensing a cabin theme, here?) alone late one night in college, I was unable to sleep because I'd been scared shitless ... The Cabin at the End of the World succeeds in part because it trades in frights rooted (or not) in totally unprovable motivation. It doesn't dwell for long in the godliness of it all, thankfully, making the novel tense and muscle tightening, crackling with uncertainty. Are these just crazed home invaders who met on an Internet forum for like-minded conspiracy theorists? Is some higher power really speaking to them? Is it all a stand-in for Trump and his followers? The answers to these questions, in the end, don't come, and don't matter. None of it matters. It's fight or flight. When our backs are against a wall, when we're tasked with protecting the ones we love most, when we're asked to consider the greater good: What would we do?
Tremblay spins out another terrifying story, turning the standard home invasion horror plot on its head ... The Cabin at the End of the World would be scary enough as a supernatural story about four people proclaiming to be the messengers of the apocalypse. But seeing four well-intentioned people led astray by a collective, warped worldview is even more frightening in 2018. It’s frightening because it’s so plausible ... Good horror stories look at the world around us to draw inspiration as to what could go wrong, and with this book, Tremblay has penned a story that’s not only a nightmare as it plays out on the page, but one that’s grimly reflective of the times that we live in.
Tremblay’s strength is his ability to ratchet up the tension while consistently confounding the reader’s expectations. The reactions of the family are believably predictable, but the motivations of the intruders are complicated and, at times, maddeningly vague ... While The Cabin at the End of the World can be read as a straightforward thriller, it also can be viewed as a meditation on truth. Every time it appears that something has been explained rationally, doubt is cast upon the logic ... The twists toggle between intriguing and infuriating. This is not necessarily a problem given the relentless action and suspense in the novel, but the reader will need to have a high comfort level with ambiguity to not feel adrift before this book is over.
It is cold and it is broken but it is one of the best things I have read in very long time. It asked questions I was not prepared to answer. It offered answers I was not prepared to hear. Usually books that offer complex themes and ideas are written in equally complicated prose. This is Tremblay's greatest gift as a writer. We can engage with his material with such ease we hardly notice its asking so much of us as readers. It is a book for readers but also and arguably more important it is a book that makes readers ... I went into this book knowing very little but expecting an inventive take on the cabin in the woods trope. I was not disappointed. This is that novel but without a truth to moor the characters. Their actions are unique leaps of faith.
What at first seems like an unusual riff on the home invasion thriller evolves into a story that can't easily be pigeonholed. Without ruining any of Tremblay's nasty surprises, it is safe to say that the four strangers turn out to have very earnest motivations that they believe to involve the fate of the human race. The novel unfolds cinematically, taking place over hours rather than weeks. As harrowing as it may be, however, there is a lot of warmth in its depiction of Eric, Andrew and Wen's small family. There is also a surprising amount of dark humor. The Cabin at the End of the World deftly moves between private insecurities and existential terror, poking holes in the flimsy sense of security families rely upon.
...another thought-provoking, page-turning horror novel ... Alternating between unreliable narrators, Tremblay captures the intense emotional struggle, especially in flashbacks into the lives of the odds-defying family of Wen, Andrew, and Eric, while dread and terror permeate every sentence. This is a novel with the heart and tone of The Road, by Cormac McCarthy, but
will also appeal to fans of Ruth Ware, Josh Malerman, and Joe Hill.
A striking work of psychological horror and unblinking terror ... Tremblay masterfully switches perspectives during the book’s most dramatic moments, offering only hints at how the quartet’s strange mission originated but fully seizing upon this family’s personal shock and distress. As the story unfolds, Tremblay introduces bloody violence, a sweeping, agonizing consequence that may or may not be real, and a series of episodes that lead these troubled souls toward a disquieting and macabre conclusion.
Tremblay skillfully seeds his tale with uncertainties, including news reports of portentous world catastrophes, that suggest the invaders’ vision is genuine, and he introduces enough doubt into the beliefs and behaviors of all the parties to keep them and the reader off-balance. His profoundly unsettling novel invites readers to ask themselves whether, when faced with the unbelievable, they would do the unthinkable to prevent it.
Paul Tremblay’s The Cabin at the End of the World opens as seven-year-old Wen is collecting grasshoppers outside her family’s remote New Hampshire cabin. She knows she shouldn’t speak to the friendly stranger who arrives – an unusually large man called Leonard – but she chats to him for a while, until, even to her young mind, things start to feel a little wrong. When his 'friends' arrive, bearing makeshift weapons, she runs to find her parents, Daddy Eric and Daddy Andrew, and her little family are catapulted into a nightmare … Tremblay skilfully keeps his readers guessing about the reality of Leonard’s ominous warning as he lets his horrifying scenario play out.