Martin's Must Reads: '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. ‘God will keep you safe, Quilliam.’ ... It was a blade-sharp August day, the sea burned black by the sun’s brightness. And no, there were no omens hinting at trouble ahead. Horta people notice such things.”
I’m Betty Martin with "Martin’s Must Reads" and those are some lines from the first few pages of Geraldine McCaughrean’s historical novel Where the World Ends. Based on a real event, the story takes place in 1727 in St. Kilda, a cluster of islands and sea stacs, the most remote in the British Isles. A sea stac is a large outcrop of rock rising sheer-sided out of the sea.
Nine boys and three men leave that August morning by boat for the Warrior Stac to hunt gannets for their feathers, oil and meat. This harvest will feed their village for the year and provide enough extras to sell to pay the government taxes. Their most prized possessions are their ropes that help them rappel to nests and their woolen caps that keep their heads warm and dry.
What should have been four weeks away from home turns into nine months. Marooned on this rock island, or stac, the boys and men work to keep themselves fed, warm and sane and to understand why no one has come back for them. McCaughrean fully develops each character, making the teen Quilliam the hero of the story, rescuing both boy and man and finding ways to keep them all sane while they wait for rescue or to die.
If you’re looking for a unique story of survival, then you must read Where the World Ends by Geraldine McCaughrean.