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Where the World Ends by Geraldine McCaughrean
Young adult

Where the World Ends

by Geraldine McCaughrean

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, Icon_SlowRead

    Slow build

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_International

    International

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Acclaim

    Critically acclaimed

  • Illustrated icon, 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.

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Free sample

Check out a preview of Where the World Ends.

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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Member ratings (424)

  • Lyndsey C.

    Palm Bay, FL

    Hands down my second favorite book (HP series is first!). I was hooked immediately. I finished the whole thing in four hours and then re-read it immediately because I felt like I couldn't get enough.

  • Lanece F.

    Orlando, FL

    Geraldine, known for her children's books, doesn't pull any punches. This book really puts you in the dreaded headspace of the young men fighting for survival, praying they haven't been forgotten.

  • Hope M.

    Conifer, CO

    I absolutely loved this book. The writing was so different and almost poetic at times. I must admit at first I wasn’t so sure, but it didn’t take more than a few chapters to change my mind.

  • Jo L.

    Dayton, OH

    Such a moving and hopeful story. I loved that it was based on a true story and reading the actual details of the incident was interesting and moving. I really loved the characters as well.

  • Iris A.

    Clovis, CA

    Great mix of adventure & sorrow. I loved all the characters & the balance religion played in the stories. It was excellent. So much sadness but also so much bravery and the power of will.