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The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay - horror?

The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay

Genre: Horror/Thriller

Award: Bram Stoker and Locus horror awards

Published 2018; 272 pages

This is my first book by this author and I have a couple more on my TBR. I associate horror stories with his name but apparently he writes in a variety of genres. I'm not sure I'd categorize this one as horror - I'm inclined to call it a thriller, maybe?

FIRST SENTENCE: " The girl with the dark hair walks down the wooden front stairs and lowers herself into the yellowing lagoon of ankle-high grass."

MAIN CHARACTERS: Only 9 characters in the book - the vacationing family of Daddy Andrew, Daddy Eric, and 8 year old Wen; the 4 intruders: Leonard, Redmond, Adriane, Sabrina.


A happy family of two dads and an 8 year old little girl are vacationing in a fairly rustic cabin in a remote place in New Hampshire. We get a little insight into their personalities, particularly Wen, the adopted daughter - who is delightful, by the way. Then, their otherwise relaxing day is interrupted by a big man, a stranger, who engages Wen in friendly conversation without her dads knowing.

When Wen finally realizes things are "off" and runs to her dads, it's too late - Leonard has been joined by his three companions who force their way into the cabin. They are insisting they won't hurt anyone, they "just want to talk", and yet every action hints at controlled violence. The talking is supposed to be explaining why the intruders are there and what they need from the family, which is "help to save the world". Disasters and tragedies follow.


Surprisingly, this book won a couple of best novel awards in the horror genre. I'm afraid I don't get it. The Cabin at the End of the World is fast paced and easy to follow the characters because there aren't many of them. The family's reaction to the intruders seems believable, BUT the pages and pages dedicated to the intruders trying to talk their way into the cabin becomes boring and tedious. I felt the panic rising as the family tries to get them to go away, but they don't.

Too much time spent talking their way in, then way too much time spent with Leonard pleading with the Dads to "just listen to what we have to say". Okay. But then Leonard never really explained anything. Then things spiral out of control, still with the Dads (and the reader) not understanding what is going on. Then, can I just say? That ending. That is a TERRIBLE ending. Don't read this book if you want your story even a little completed.

The good? Well, Wen is an adorable little girl and we get some strong character building with her, and secondarily with her dads. Not so much with the intruder's never really clear why/how they got together (hole big enough to drive a truck through!). I felt like the portrayal of Wen's reactions to the unfolding terror of a home invasion was well done. In spite of my criticisms, I actually was engaged in the book and zooming along looking for the conclusion to wrap it all up. It was maybe a little above average until that end. Can you tell I hated that end?? My sister Donna read the book right before me, and she totally agreed - the ending ruined the book.

**(all that being said, don't think I'll be staying in a remote cabin any time soon!)

Have you read it? What did you think? Can you point out some positives that I missed?

cabin photo by Peter Thomas via Unsplash

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