A harrowing story of survival based on an actual 18th-century event is brought to life by British author Geraldine McCaughrean, winner of the Michael L. Printz Award for The White Darkness. As in that book, which was set in Antarctica, Where the World Ends takes place in a harsh, unfamiliar landscape: the St. Kilda archipelago, a cluster of islands northwest of Scotland.
The novel follows nine boys and three men who are taken, by boat, from their village and dropped off on Warrior Stac, “a rock whale pitching its whole bulk into the sky, covered in barnacles, aiming to swallow the moon,” where they will hunt birds for several weeks before being picked up and returned to the village.
Quill has been fowling on the stac before. Although he usually enjoys the challenge of hunting, this year, as the boat leaves, he strains to catch a glimpse of Murdina, the girl with whom he has fallen in love.
Hunting birds on the cliffs is treacherous. Quill and his friends are tested from the very beginning, but then the unthinkable happens: The boat does not return for them. Weeks go by, then months. One boy has a vision that their loved ones have all gone up to heaven, while they have been overlooked, left behind on the rock.
The seasons change, the birds leave their cliff nests, and each day is fraught with peril as the members of the party struggle to stay alive and sane. There are surprises and tragedies, and while all the characters are tested (the adults fail miserably), it is Quill’s trials that will keep readers riveted. Although no one in this book escapes sorrow and heartbreak, the story ends with a glimmer of hope.
McCaughrean’s storytelling is as dramatic and harsh as the island landscape. She includes a helpful glossary, a historical note and sketches of the marvelous seabirds that appear in the book. Already a classic in the U.K., where it won the prestigious Carnegie Medal, Where the World Ends is a stunning literary achievement.
ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Go behind the book with Where the World Ends author Geraldine McCaughrean.