Updated: Mar 15, 2021
Paul Tremblay takes a deep dive into the characters of this home-invasion thriller with emphasis on a couple vacationing at a remote cabin in New Hampshire with their daughter. In the beginning, readers get introduced to an inquisitive little girl whose parents are the epitome of the idiom opposites attract. Our spidey senses tingle when a man the width of a large tree trunk casually strolls up the driveway and right up to the little girl, who is playing alone out front.
The story is told in the present tense from a third-person perspective, which is not typically seen in novels, but Tremblay pulls it off . . . at least for a while.
Written this way, a reader feels as though the events are happening in real time, creating a sense of urgency and an immediate connection to the characters. The point of view gets switched more than halfway through the book, and we see through the eyes of one of the intruders for an entire chapter. It threw me off a bit; however, since this change occurs at the beginning of a new chapter and answers some specific questions that readers will have at this point in the book, it works to the advantage of the audience. I feel like a reader's questions could also have been answered by maintaining third-person perspective without taking away from the build up of suspense.
Again readers see a change in point of view as we peer through the eyes of Andrew and Eric, the couple whose cabin was invaded by four people with intentions we now understand at this point in the novel. In a single sentence, we see a change in points of view from third to first person. This happens in multiple sentences causing the readability to suffer. I had to go back and reread the sentences in order to make sense of who was feeling and/or thinking what. Up until this point in the novel the pace was a solid 10, offering strong emotional sequences in which readers felt they were in the characters' shoes.
Since Tremblay was already a household name when he wrote this book, he was able to get away with changing points of view the way he did. A first-time author, on the other hand, wouldn't be so lucky. This is the reason I give "The Cabin at the End of the World" three stars. It is a well-known faux pas in the publishing industry to change points of view throughout a novel. Writers are always urged to maintain consistency, and I think that Tremblay should have done the same.