I know it’s a total cliché to say you just can’t put a book down, but screw it. Tremblay’s latest novel is the epitome of such a claim. Problem is, I was reading it during breaks at work, so I HAD to put it down. Gah!
I’ve been a huge fan of Tremblay since A Head Full of Ghosts (easily one of my favorite horror novels of the last ten years or so), and have been meaning to get to his back catalogue eventually, despite it not being of the same genre (I’m of the belief that authors this good generally excel at whatever genre they attempt to tackle. See Joe R. Lansdale for another example of incredible writing trumping genre). But in the meantime I’ve been moving forward. Despite it being a very different beast from AHFOG, I loved Disappearance at Devil’s Rock quite a bit, so I was rip-roaring ready for some more Tremblay to consume. Gimme gimme gimme.
I wasn’t ready for The Cabin at the End of the World.
Allow me to give you just a quick setup, a taste if you will. A gay couple (Andrew and Eric) and their adopted Chinese daughter Wen set off to a cabin in northern New Hampshire to enjoy some alone time. Since this alone would not make for a very interesting book, naturally something has to foil their plans. And that something comes in the form of Leonard, Sabrina, Redmond, and Adriane, a group of intruders who show up feigning friendship but harboring something much darker. All signs point to cult, but something’s off. You see, these four individuals (who allegedly have never met before that morning) have all foreseen the impending apocalypse, and the only way to stop it is from coming (and it’s coming, like, really goddamned soon!) is for the happy family to choose to do something unspeakable. To share anything more would be spoiling, so I’ll leave it at that.
Tremblay employs a breakneck pacing I’ve not seen in his previous efforts, only taking a few brief breaths for reflective flashbacks, and it works well for this book. I was sufficiently stressed from the moment things turned bad until they grew much, much worse. And if you’re familiar with Tremblay’s love of ambiguity (which I also love, love, love), The Cabin at the End of the World is no different in the sense that you may think you have a handle on what happens by the time you hit the last page, but you can’t really be sure. One thing you can be sure of: this is a dark, dark book.
As is to be expected, the prose shines in a way that perfectly sates my appetite for language. To manage this while maintaining such manic energy throughout is no small feat. A brutal story, beautifully worded. As long as Tremblay keeps pumping out novels of this quality, I’ll keep shelling out my hard-earned dough.
P.S. Paul, you need to promise to come back to San Diego one day. I regret to inform you that, though you managed to personalize my book and leave a message, you never technically signed it! Haha!