Paul Tremblay’s long awaited and much anticipated follow-up to “Disappearance at Devil’s Rock” and “A Head Full of Ghosts” certainly lived up to the hype and delivered another ambiguous ending for readers to decide if the supernatural forces at work are beyond the scope of human understanding or if they’re merely the delusions and madness of man.
The Cabin at the End of the World starts with a parent’s worst nightmare. A stranger approaches Wen, the adopted daughter of Andrew and Eric, and the situation quickly escalates into a home invasion. If this isn’t terrifying enough, these four strangers come with a message for Eric, Andrew, and Wen which will forever alter the course of their lives.
From page one, the tension and dread are palpable, and it doesn’t let up until the last page is turned. The strength of Tremblay’s characters is what drives the typical home invasion plot into something more than the cliches we’ve come to expect from Hollywood or other horror novels splattered with blood and gore. That isn’t to say Tremblay doesn’t tread into those waters. There is indeed a fair amount of blood and gore in this book, but it isn’t to satisfy some serial killer’s bloodlust or for Tremblay to describe hideous events to shock the audience. There is a method to this madness, and there is a necessity to the bloodshed.
If there is any criticism to level against the novel, it is a personal one. I’m not a big fan of ambiguous endings. The three novels I’ve read by Tremblay all have ended with ambiguity, but in my opinion, the strength of the plot is the deal breaker on whether or not the books are satisfying despite their endings. “A Head Full of Ghosts” was incredibly satisfying with the plot, so the ambiguous ending didn’t bother me as much. “Disappearance at Devil’s Rock” was the opposite as I wasn’t quite as drawn into the plot as I was with “A Head Full of Ghosts.” Being as how I was split down the middle with these novels, “The Cabin at the End of the World” was going to be the tie-breaker on whether or not I would consider myself a fan of Tremblay. Luckily, “The Cabin at the End of the World” was a much better reading experience than “Disappearance at Devil’s Rock” so I will be reading Tremblay’s next novel whenever it may come out.
Overall, “The Cabin at the End of the World” lives up to its hype and will likely make a lot of Top 10 of 2018 book lists.