Paul Tremblay – “Cabin At The End Of The World”

Oh hi there tiny friends. Welcome to another spooky and possibly creppy book review. My last review was for Claire Legrand’s Sawkill Girls and I have to admit it was a bit of a slog. I mean, obviously read the review for further information, but it didn’t work for me.
That said, it was like a breath of fresh air after holding my breath underwater for too long to read “Cabin At The End Of The World” by Paul Tremblay.

It took me a little bit to get into the writing style of the book – it opens on the point of view from Wen, adopted daughter of Andrew and Eric, and she is catching grasshoppers. There’s a pointed simplicity to the writing that gives such pause – there is clearly more at play than what is being written, and the way Tremblay toys with you thoughts is very heady and powerful.

On the surface, this book comes off as a home invasion novel. A gang of four individuals confront the family of Andrew, Eric, and Wen at their summer getaway cabin. The way that this novel becomes not like a standard home invasion trope is that we are given a lot of narration from the points of view of the home invaders – but not at first. Tremblay is adept at making the reader think one thing is happening when really there is much more at play, but this is revealed at the opening.

Adriane, Sabrina, and Redmond are led by Leonard, and the group of these would be home invaders come with masks and makeshift weapons and begin telling the family that the world is ending, that plague, pestilence, natural disaster and the apocalypse will happen, unless the family makes a willing sacrifice of one of it’s members.

As Andrew and Eric are gay men, one who has a past history of being the victim of a hate crime for being gay, the two believe that the group is religious in nature, motivated by hatred for gay people. Eric has a past that involves religion and he finds himself in some ways moved by what the group is preaching.
There’s an eerieness about the nature of the group, and as readers we go through moments of thinking they are crazy lunatics bent on murder and mayhem, to thinking them to be desperate fools attempting to save the world. There’s a great interplay of pieces and back and forth between the family and the invaders, and there is this brutal thriller aspect to it all. I felt that almost all of the narrators were not reliable, and so this book really kept me guessing. Was Eric sympathetic to the home invaders due to his religious upbrining, or had he simply been concussed into seeing magic?
Was Andrew gunshy from being attacked or was one of the home invaders really his previous attacker?
Were the home invaders really given a mission from God or were they simply suffering psychotic delusions urging them to kill?

I must admit to being somewhat biased – home invasion horrors have always ticked a lot of boxes for me. That said, the way that this played with the whole “religious cult” piece as well the home invasion piece was completely stunning.

I found the book to be a quick read – about 210 pages in my Kindle, and it was made quicker for me because I simply wasn’t able to put it down. I had to know what happened – what happens in a cabin at the edge of the world? What happens when the world ends? Does it end on a cosmic level or simply for one person?
And further, what would you do if God came to you and asked you to do his dirty work? Where is the line between duty and delusion.

If I can be frank, this book was a completely gorgeous headtrip. The relationship of the family was so tightly written and beautiful – the characters felt so very real. Their gayness wasn’t something that felt tacked on or hollow – the struggle of Eric and Andrew was true to reality and rather than tokenizing, I found the treatment of them being LGBT to be intensely legitimate.
The tautness of the writing, extended into all aspects of the book, and I really can’t recommend this one enough. I completed the book and have had to think on it for a while, because the ending was somewhat ambiguous, and really, endings that tend to be the best are a little ambiguous, because like the world, do things ever truly end?

6/6 Don’t fuck up and miss this one.

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