The Cabin at the End of the World

Review From User :

When the end is near will you know it Will signs appear to show it And what sort of end will it be Ice or fire Conflagration Land consumed by an angry sea And what if there's uncertainty What if this is not the result of that, but just the way things are, under no one's control to cause or prevent And if there is no control, what is the role of those who speak on behalf of an unseen power Do they suffer from confusion, perhaps delusion Can we take them at their word What if they insist we go along with their intrusion, even though we've reached a very different conclusion Lines are drawn when the mad demand our subjugation. What sort of god could allow such things and still insist on adoration

Paul Tremblay - image from

Wenling (Wen) will be eight years old in a few days. She and her two daddies, Eric and Andrew, are away from it all, up from Cambridge, at a cabin in northern New Hampshire, near the Canadian border. Her dads chose this place because there would be no Wi-fi or cell reception so they could unplug and it would be just the three of them hanging out, swimming, talking, playing cards or board games without any digital distractions. Peace and quiet, no nearby neighbors, plenty of grasshoppers. Wen is outside collecting some in a jar, to study. She is even giving them names, and making sure to pick smaller ones that will not damage themselves on the jagged edges of the air holes she's poked in the metal lid. Out of nowhere a very large man appears, Leonard. He might be taller than anyone she has ever met, and he's as wide as a couple of tree trunks pushed together. He is soft spoken and seems kind, even helps her collect some specimens. But Leonard is (like the Blues Brothers) on a mission from god. He has three other people with him. Your dads won't want to let us in, Wen, but they have to. Tell them they have to. We are not here to hurt you. We need your help to save the world. Please. Well, in that case, sure, come on inor not. Wen, alarmed, runs to tell her dads. The four insist on entering. The dads are determined to keep them out, and the siege is on.

Image from ZD Net

An apocalypse is coming and these four are both heralds and, potentially, agents of prevention. Were the voices they all heard some common mental illness, an alien intrusion, or truly a sign from you-know-who That the world seems to be going to hell quickly in a dramatically large handbasket lends them some credence, but what they are asking is unthinkable.

Tremblay has written detective novels, scores of short stories and a few horror books, all while keeping his day job, schoolteacher. Perhaps because of having to deal with adolescents at work and at home, he is fond of horror story tropes. In A Head Full of Ghosts he became one with the demonic possession tale. For a later work, Disappearance at Devil's Rock, he considered what sort of things would most terrify him personally. And the winner was missing child, every parent's nightmare. This time he took on another favorite source of terror. 'How would I do a home invasion novel I'd like to read' I guarantee you have not read one like this one before.

Image from

The intent doesn't matter much if you do not care about those in the home being invaded. No problem. Wen is edible, and her daddies are a very human couple, with affection and edges reasonably distributed. Details of their lives make you care for them more and more. And you will have cause for concern, as they are facing very real, very existential immediate peril.

There are plenty of elements in common with the usual home invasion horrors. Wondering if your invaders are nuts, fearing for your life and the lives of your loved ones, trying to figure out ways to get the better of the baddies. What is different is that the home invaders do not seem to be evil people, despite the most definitely evil-looking scythe-like weaponry they tote. (When the going gets seriously tough, the seriously tough get going to, your goto provider for your end-times needs. Tribulation-free ordering guaranteed) Leonard, the leader, seems particularly reasonable, a gentle giant, nice even. They might be insane, but what if they are not There are reasons offered to consider the latter possibility. The other three are definitely equipped with good sides too, but a bit less manifestly than their leader.

Study for the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, 19th century - by John Martin
image from the Indiana University Art Museum Provenance Project

Any fine meal is composed of a range of ingredients. Here we have the terror of the invaded, the unexpected facets of the invaders and a big, overarching scare. Is it real or not But there are other items spicing up this read. There is consideration of faith, religion, and how far one will go in service of one's beliefs. It is tough not to see the four horsemen imagery in the four invaders, but there are other, more subtle spices at play. A motif of sevens permeates. There are sundry references to other novels that offer some food for thought. Tim O'Brien's Lake of the Woods is one. There are others. Do we believe what we see or see what we believe

Image from

This book will keep you guessing. Is this the end of the world Or maybe just a potential end for some. Tremblay offers an explanation, but can we accept it The ambiguity provides a constant tension from the first encounter to the last page. There may not be a mysterious voice telling you to get your hands on this one as soon as you can, and read it as quickly as possible. But whether you hear one or not, this will be one of the best reads of the summer and you do not really know how much time you have left.

Review posted - 3/16/18

Publication date - 6/26/18

=============================EXTRA STUFF

Links to the author's personal, Twitter and FB pages

He has a story collection coming out in 2019, and his next novel in 2020.

An excerpt - from Entertainment Weekly

I sure hope Tremblay doesn't take a shovel to my review. But if he does, I hope he tapes it.

-----In this video interview put out by his publisher, Morrow, Tremblay talks mostly about two earlier novels, but gets into how this one came about, offering insight into his approach - 27:50
-----Providence College - an audio interview at his alma mater - From Fractions to Fiction - 42:15
-----Excerpts from a Locus Magazine interview - print - Paul Tremblay: Aftermath
-----Audio interview - Friday Morning Coffee - June 16, 2017 - with Daniel Ford - 21:01
-----Print interview at - 10 Questions with Paul Tremblay - 6/2/15 - by Keith Rawson

----- Book Studio 16 is a Harper department that produces a video series in which someone whose opinion I value above all speaks about a handful of (usually) upcoming books. At -24.19 to -18:18, the queen of the show talks about The Cabin at the End of the World, but I suggest you watch the entire vid. (about 34 minutes) You might find even more books to add to your ever-growing TBR.

The Harper Book Queen included a bit on this book in her TBR Tuesdays FB live broadcast from 7/31/18 - at 9:50

The Bram Stoker Award-winning author of A Head Full of Ghosts adds an inventive twist to the home invasion horror story in a heart-palpitating novel of psychological suspense that recalls Stephen King’s Misery, Ruth Ware’s In a Dark, Dark Wood, and Jack Ketchum’s cult hit The Girl Next Door.
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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.

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