It’s worse than I imagined.’ He sniffed. ‘The rest of the world has gone.’ That’s how he said it; just like that, matter-of-fact.
When her concert pianist mother embarks on a European tour (probably to serve as a break from a now loveless marriage) 8 year old Peggy is left in their London home with her Survivalist obsessed father.
They start camping in the garden, living as though the house behind them doesn’t exist. Shortly after this, spurred on by a survivalist friend turning up to stay, the father decides to take Peggy with him to live in a remote wood cabin (die hütte) in the middle of a Bavarian forest.
Soon afterwards the father convinces his daughter that her mother has died in an accident and a little later that the rest of the world has been destroyed leaving just the two of them behind.
The authors description of the forest and Die Hütte is masterful but it’s the description of the father/daughter relationship as he becomes more and more unstable that makes this book so good.
To start with we are seeing the new life as almost idyllic through a naive eight year old eyes – daddy even constructs a piano for her to learn to play. As she gets older and especially after they almost starve to death in their first Winter things become less perfect and her fathers mental instability becomes far more obvious.
The author foreshadowed the ‘twist’ ending from this point by introducing another character, Reuben, who only Peggy ever has contact with as well as changing the interaction between her and her father as she became a young woman and I easily guessed the twist which was a little annoying but I still enjoyed the book despite this.
The switching back and forth between the 9 years in the forest and the time after Peggy returns makes the story a lot less suspenseful and I can see that this would possibly ruin the book for many readers although I wouldn’t include myself in this. Nevertheless I do think that an alternative version where the ending is unknown would be interesting to read to see if it worked better or engaged the reader more.
I received a free kindle edition of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.