What’s The House At The End Of The World all about?:
The House At The End Of The World follows a father and daughter who are surviving in the wilderness after the end of civilisation.
What did I think?:
For those of you who have read my previous reviews of the stories in this collection you might appreciate I had mixed feelings on reading and finishing the final story in Things That Fall From The Sky. Generally, I’ve had quite varied thoughts about the stories within – sometimes, they have been excellent and I cannot fault them, sometimes I’ve just shrugged and not thought very much of the story either way and others, well….one in particular was one of the worst short stories I’ve ever read. As a result, I came to The House At The End Of The World with quite an open mind, thinking I could either love it, hate it or be completely indifferent. I did end up enjoying it BUT the story-line reminded me very much of one of my favourite novels and I couldn’t treat it as a narrative in its own right because of this unfortunately.
The story follows Holly, four years old when we first meet her and describes her life with her father as they live out in the forest in a house made completely by her father’s hands, hunt and forage for food and even grow their own vegetables in a make-shift garden near to their home. We are not told what has happened to the rest of civilisation but we get the impression that Holly and her father are two of the very few people left in the world and, as a result, must survive accordingly. This story follows their beautiful relationship, daily life and also their struggles when Holly’s father manages to break his arm and Holly is forced to learn more about their way of life and do much more for herself and her father in order to pull them both through.
I don’t really want to say too much more as there is an event that happens that could be described as being quite unexpected and perhaps an alternative direction from where the reader thought the narrative may be leading. For me, I didn’t exactly expect it but as soon as it happened I was instantly reminded of one of my favourite novels as I mentioned earlier. However, I’m very hesitant to even mention the name of that novel because just by saying it, if you have read it, gives away a considerable spoiler about parts of this story and I wouldn’t want to spoil anything for anyone. “The event” was the major sticking point for me with this tale. Although I loved it in the novel, I didn’t particularly want to read about it again in a different story by a different author. That’s not the fault of the author, both of them just happened to come up with similar ideas and wrote a narrative around them. Personally, it just didn’t feel fresh enough for me because I felt like I had read it before.
Saying all this, if I put that novel to one side and had never read it, I would say this story is completely beautiful, in the language the author uses and in the execution of the plot. I loved the relationship between Holly and her father and the descriptions of the environment around them were simply stunning – you could almost believe they were the only two people on the Earth and I found myself as a reader really rooting for them.
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):
NEXT SHORT STORY: Which Reminded Her, Later by Jon McGregor from the collection This Isn’t The Sort Of Thing That Happens To Someone Like You.