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Where the World Ends by Geraldine McCaughrean

Young adult

Where the World Ends

by Geraldine McCaughrean

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Quick Take

Abandoned on a Scottish island in the 1700s? It's brutal. But it's also based on a true story, if you can believe it.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Slow_Build

    Slow build

  • Illustrated icon, International

    International

  • Illustrated icon, Critically_Acclaimed

    Critically acclaimed

  • Illustrated icon, Rugged

    Rugged

Synopsis

Every summer Quill and his friends are put ashore on a remote sea stac to hunt birds. But this summer, no one arrives to take them home. Surely nothing but the end of the world can explain why they’ve been abandoned?cold, starving and clinging to life, in the grip of a murderous ocean. How will they survive such a forsaken place of stone and sea?

This is an extraordinary story of fortitude, endurance, tragedy and survival, set against an unforgettable backdrop of savage beauty.

Why I love it

I read historical fiction for the windows it opens to the past. But I’m tough on this genre. I want historical accuracy, fast-paced plots with tension and imagination, and characters who feel real. Where the World Ends is the rare historical novel that hits every mark.

It’s 1727, and a group of nine boys and three men are dropped off on a sea stac—an uninhabited column of stone—some miles near the island of Hirta in northern Scotland. They’re harvesting sea birds for two weeks, an important annual tradition. Two weeks pass, and the bags are full of birds, but there’s no sign of the boat. Then three weeks pass, then four. Then months. The novel shifts from a coming-of-age tale of friendship and bullies to a dire survival story in which each boy and man must decide who he is and what makes life worth living.

I love the setting with its bone-chilling cold, the many smells of the ocean, and the constant sense of dread. I love the characters’ dreams and courage. And I love the warmth that permeates this bleak true story, which Geraldine McCaughrean makes vivid, even funny at times, and ultimately satisfying.

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Young adult
View all
Ruthless Vows
The Revenant Games
What the River Knows
As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow
Dragonfruit
Gwen & Art Are Not in Love
Divine Rivals
Legendborn
Foul Lady Fortune
Anna K Away
A Wilderness of Stars
Firekeeper's Daughter
Girl, Serpent, Thorn
Warrior Girl Unearthed
Bloodmarked
Star Daughter
Not So Pure and Simple
Throw Like a Girl
The Queen of Nothing
On the Come Up
Wayward Son
Anna K
The Rest of the Story
With the Fire on High
The Red Scrolls of Magic
This Time Will Be Different
Yes No Maybe So
The Gilded Wolves
Permanent Record
Wicked Saints
Dangerous Alliance
The Sound of Stars
All the Stars and Teeth
Where the World Ends
When the Stars Lead to You
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
The Ten Thousand Doors of January
The Girl the Sea Gave Back
Saving Zoë
Hello Girls
Mind Games
Storm and Fury
There's Something About Sweetie
Again, But Better
We Hunt the Flame
Sky Without Stars
You'd Be Mine
Opposite of Always
The Field Guide to the North American Teenager
Enchantée
The Astonishing Color of After
Top Ten
Little & Lion
The Impossible Fortress
Girls in the Moon
You Will Know Me