Where the World Ends by Geraldine McCaughrean
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
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?
“Cold laid clammy hands on their necks and kidneys, their hands and feet. It twanged on their muscles like a harpist.”
-Geraldine McCaughrean, Author, Where the World Ends
His mother gave him a new pair of socks, a puffin to eat on the voyage and a kiss on the cheek.
Where the World Ends is a gorgeously written book by Geraldine McCaughrean set in the 18th century and is a fictional account based on a true story. It centers around a group of three men and nine boys that are put ashore on the Warrior stac in the archipelago of St. Kilda to go fowling; the harvesting of “bird -meat, eggs, feathers, oil …” What is supposed to be a few weeks turns into much longer when the ship that is supposed to pick them up, never arrives.
The story explores the hardship that is faced on this remote rocky stac as those that are abandoned face starvation, the harsh winter elements, and some of their own base natures along with the fear that the only way their loved ones would abandon them is if the world had ended. Despite this, there is the ever-present hope that they’ll see a ship on the horizon and remarkably, a continuing sense of unity among most present.
Told from the astute perspective of Quill, I felt very aware of each hardship, of each character’s personality - faults and kindnesses - and the absolute misery wondering why they’ve been abandoned. With little more than a cave for shelter and hunger nipping at their bellies, true natures are soon exposed; Some good, some not so much. One thing is undeniable, each boy and each man will be forever changed by their experience.
It’s a tale of survival and tragedy but also one of hope, community and friendship and ultimately, resilience and bravery. This is a story that will stay with me.
Thank you to NetGalley and Flatiron Books for the opportunity to read and review this title!
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