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{December 2, 2019}   {ARC Review} Where the World Ends by Geraldine McCaughrean

From Goodreads: Every time a lad came fowling on the St Kilda stacs, he went home less of a boy and more of a man. If he went home at all, that is…

In the summer of 1727, a group of men and boys are put ashore on a remote sea stac to harvest birds for food. No one returns to collect them. Why? Surely nothing but the end of the world can explain why they have been abandoned to endure storms, starvation and terror. And how can they survive, housed in stone and imprisoned on every side by the ocean?


Told in the third person, this novel follows Quilliam and the group of boys and men who journey to the stacs of St. Kilda for what they believe will be between 1-3 weeks at most, only to find themselves marooned on the inhospitable rocky island for what turns out to be nine months. Nine months of thinking their families were raptured and that they were forgotten; nine months of sleeping in caves, scrounging for food once the birds migrate for the winter, and losing hope of ever leaving the island alive. If you’re looking for another Lord of the Flies type read, know right now that this is not it. Written for ages ten and up, I, unfortunately, don’t feel this novel would hold the attention of an MG or YA reader–not a lot happens, the language is difficult to decipher, and the characters tend to blend together. However, for a lover of historical fiction, one interested in the now abandonded island of Hirta in Scotland and the people who once went fowling on the stacs, this novel lends some insight and can actually be great fun, although slowgoing at times. Yes, it’s a bit of a hard read, but again, with the right amount of interest and insight going in, I think an adult reader could and would find this an intriguing tale.

It is 1727 in Scotland. From there, the reader ought to know that the way of speaking is archaic. Going into the novel with this in mind, and the knowledge that the Scottish dialect can be difficult to understand here and there will help the reader navigate some of the discussions held within the novel. Likewise, going in with knowledge of the stacs, St. Kilda, Hirta, and the fact that a group of fowlers did indeed find themselves left on the island for 9 months lends credibility and a sense of understanding to the read. I finished the novel before looking up any of these things, as I didn’t realize they truly existed until reading the author’s afterward, which suddenly spiked my interest tenfold, and is something I wish I had noticed was written down at the bottom of the book cover–or perhaps had been noted in the synopsis. Upon watching some videos and learning the truth behind what the characters in this novel experienced, and being able to literally see the type of inhospitable atmosphere the characters found themselves in, the novel was suddenly brought to life in a way that simply reading had not done for me (note to reader–the picture on the cover is indeed a stac and not just an embellished picture as I originally thought). Suddenly, I found that the novel was actually quite intriguing after the fact, and it made my slog through to the end, to find out why no one came for them, much more enjoyable. Because I went into this novel blind and not realizing it’s historical fiction, that the stacs and Hirta are real places, and that the events transcribed, while fictional, follow many a truth, the novel was not as enjoyable as it could have been for me. So again, I think it is really important that readers familiarize themselves with these places prior to going into the read, and below, I’ve included a video I watched on YouTube that really made me understand where the characters lived and where they were marooned on the stacs. It will make your read all the better. Three stars (which probably would have been higher had I gone into it with a different understanding and mindset).

I was provided an ARC of this novel by Flatiron Books and MacMillan through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Where the World Ends releases tomorrow, Dec. 3, 2019.

Did you know that you can read this novel for FREE with a FREE TRIAL of Audible for 30 days? Try it today!

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Seriously–watch the video below! St. Kilda and the stacs are so amazing!



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