I had a fair idea of what I was in for judging by the apocalyptic, blood-red cover of The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay, but I was ultimately unsatisfied by the story’s lack of resolution.
Eric and Andrew were holidaying at an isolated cabin in the woods with their daughter Wen, who was catching grasshoppers in the garden when a gigantic stranger unexpectedly arrived. The stranger tried to befriend Wen, but eventually scared her by warning her that bad things were about to happen, while stressing to her that none of the events would be her fault. When several other people armed with frightening home-made weapons arrived, Wen ran inside to her parents.
The strangers told Eric and Andrew that they needed their help to save the world, but Eric and Andrew weren’t so gullible as to let them into the cabin, although eventually the strangers forced their way inside and tied up Eric and Andrew.
To save the world, the strangers told Eric, Andrew and Wen that they needed to choose which one of their family they would sacrifice. If they didn’t choose willingly, then the world would be ruined by floods, plague before the sky would fall, dooming all of humanity.
When the family declined to choose, the strangers smashed one of their own group to death in a ritualistic killing watched in horror by Eric, Andrew and Wen. The remaining strangers then turned on the television to watch the news, which was showing terrible floods in various parts of the world.
Eventually my initial anticipation regarding the family’s situation fizzled out although I kept reading until the end of the story, despite not believing in the characters or their motives. I generally like horror stories and end of the world scenarios, but for me this story fell flat.