THANKSREADING 2018: Parental Advisory

Becoming a parent changes everything.

I haven’t revealed a deep psychological insight here, I know. But even 20 years into parenthood – three kids of my own and a step-daughter – I still get punched in the heart by pieces of culture that I know wouldn’t have made me feel the same way if I weren’t a dad.

The first time was reading Stephen King’s Pet Semetary. That book destroyed me, and I don’t see myself going back to re-read it or watch the movie or the upcoming remake. Conversely, listening to Still Fighting It by Ben Folds is a cathartic experience that reminds me repeatedly to be mindful of the struggles my kids go through. 

The book I’m thankful for today falls more into the Pet Semetary camp, but it also possesses the poignancy of the Folds song. Which means that even though I’m sorta terrified to do so, I know that someday I’ll go back and re-read The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay.

When I do, I’ll lose sleep again, confronted by the fragility of childhood, family, and love. Chills will wrap my bones in an icy blanket when presented with the antagonists’ world view and how easy it is to become consumed by apocalyptic thinking. And the draconian possibilities inherent in gardening tools will once again terrify me.

The Cabin is a special book. What I want more than anything is to just lay it all out here and share the journey I took with every turned page. But that’s no good for you if you haven’t read it. I’ll just say that Daddy Eric and Daddy Andrew and their sweet adopted daughter Wen are vacationing in very rural New Hampshire. Away from people and technology. Then Leonard and his cohort show up, bastardized yard tools in hand, with ideas about the end of the world and what Wen and her dads can do to stop it.

Paul Tremblay

There’s a hell of a lot going on in Tremblay’s story, and it works on several levels. Which is part of what will inevitably draw me back. I know there are layers of nuance waiting to be discovered, and it’ll make the story even richer. It’ll also lead to a greater degree of second guessing on my part, even though I know full well how the story ends.

Except that I don’t. Not really. And neither does anyone else. Well, maybe Tremblay does.

This book presents the very best sort of horror. The kind that doesn’t rely on monsters or curses or nightmares come to life. The Cabin is built firmly on a foundation that’s terrifyingly plausible, and the story is presented with the sort of satisfying craftsmanship that never really suggests who’s right and who’s wrong.

The Cabin was my favorite book of 2018, and I’m thankful that it gave me that special punch in the heart.

I love the cover to the UK edition. Had to include it.

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