A Thought Provoking and Heartbreaking Controversial Read

Paul Tremblay’s terrifying twist to the home invasion novel—inspiration for the upcoming major motion picture from Universal Pictures

“Tremblay’s personal best. It’s that good.” — Stephen King

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.

Amazon Synopsis

Spooky Rating


Overall Rating


Quick Take

The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay is one of those novels that leaves the reader with deeply conflicting feelings. It is a book I was unsure about finishing many times while reading it but was ultimately glad that I did. It is difficult to digest and fully understand without much contemplation upon finishing the end of the book. This novel will have you questioning your morals while feeling isolated and dreadful. It is ambitious and thoughtful but will leave readers with varying opinions. What would you do if faced with a task that could save humanity, but ultimately destroy your own life?

Tell Me More

The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay is a horror novel that deals with heavy apocalyptic themes, family, and survival. It takes place in a remote cabin where a young girl, Wen, and her fathers are vacationing. One day, a man approaches Wen as she is catching grasshoppers outside of the cabin. She is immediately drawn to him and makes a connection, but little does she know that he – as well as a few others who are with him – are going to take her and her fathers hostage in their cabin. They present the family with an impossible choice that will give them the opportunity to save humanity but will force them to sacrifice themselves in the process.

No matter how bleak or dire, end-of-the-world scenarios appeal to us because we take meaning from the end.

The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay

The way that Tremblay plays out this story for the reader is in a very slow manner. The pace of the story is excruciating at times, and it is one of the main reasons that I considered not finishing the book. However, it became clear to me that Tremblay purposefully made the pacing drag on in this way to intensify the feeling of isolation and despair that Wen and her fathers are experiencing. He takes a lot of time portraying the ideals of Leonard and the other characters who take the family hostage, while also sharing the firsthand perspective of Wen and how the ordeal is affecting her.

There is a lot of violence throughout the story, and the varying perspectives of the different characters forces the reader to examine their own ideals and what they would do in such a situation. The entire novel begs the question: would you save your family, or rather, all of humanity if given the chance? It is an impossible question, and one that is not easily answered by the novel’s characters.

The ending of the novel is devastating, and while it does present a beacon of some form of hope, I found that I was shattered upon finishing the last page. The overall theme of the novel is bleak and despairing, which makes for one hard read, but it is one that I will not forget. I appreciated the inclusion of a gay couple and their daughter, as well as the integration of the television show Steven Universe, which happens to be one of my favorites. Leonard was a complex character who was at once terrifying, yet gentle, and I found that he presented how complex us humans can be – especially in times of great stress, and when we are trying to fight for what we believe in.

The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay will not be a novel for everyone. It is complex and requires great thought to fully grasp. It will leave you devastated and enraged, but ultimately changed. I have not read another novel like it, and while it does classify as horror, it is wholly a novel about family and humanity. Pick this one up and prepare to be changed. Once you go into this novel, you will never come out.

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