I read A Head Full of Ghosts by Tremblay in college for a mystery-horror project and just absolutely loved it. The writing was super impressive and the story was so good. And the fact that he was able to wrap it all up in social commentary was superb. So when I saw Tremblay’s recently released Cabin, and I saw Stephen King said it was Tremblay’s best work, I knew I needed to read it ASAP.
The plot: ok so you’ve got a married couple Eric and Andrew, and their adopted daughter Wen, and they’re on vacation in the woods. Like, no internet, no neighbors around for miles, no civilization, woods. We’re off to a strong, abet creepy, start. Which only gets creepier when a rando shows up and befriends the daughter. He talks with her, plays in the grass, and eventually apologizes for what’s about to happen. He tells her it isn’t her or her dads fault, but they have to do this because they are trying to save the world. Suddenly three more people round the corner, all of them with horrific weapons. End of chapter one.
Ooohhh I have chills just remembering it. Then we get a little preview into the husbands relationship (JVN voice: cute!) and then the action begins.
There is some drama, a near escape and some back and forth, but eventually the four strangers make their way into the house. They tie the family up then explain. They were all given, separately, a mission to stop the apocalypse from occurring. The family will have to choose one of their own to die, and the rest of the family will have to kill them, or the whole world is going to end. If they don’t pick within the given timeframe, then something bad will happen, told to them in a sort of prophecy, and people will be hurt.
Obviously, the group is crazy. And when they introduced themselves and share their stories, they seem even crazier. So the family refuses to pick, as anyone in the situation would, and the crazies end up murdering one of their own. Then they turn on the TV and something from the prophecy has happened. Or has it?
Ok, I don’t want to give anything else away but seriously, this was insane. Such a crazy story, and took such a different turn then I thought it was going to. Honestly, if I hadn’t read Tremblay’s other book I would have been taken completely by surprise.
It explores some incredibly interesting themes as well. What is truth, choice, religious dogma, family, the internet, humanity. It’s a lot. But it’s also so subtle, it wasn’t until a few days after I’d finished the book I think I got the full extent of it. And at the end, you have to make a decision. Tremblay crawled inside my brain and hasn’t gotten out.
Seriously y’all, so good. A little gory maybe so if you’re not used to that/mentality prepared then maybe don’t read this one. But otherwise you have to read it. It’s like insane how much Tremblay does in this novel and it’s only 272 pages.