Review: “We Will Never Live in the Castle” by Paul Tremblay

2 of 5 stars

This short story is included in the anthology, After the End: Recent Apocalypses, edited by Paula Guran. Our protagonist is a teenager who has holed up within the amusement park, Fairy Tale Land, in which he formerly worked. Some unspecified Apocalypse has wiped most of the adults. All survivors that are witnessed or talked about are teens with the exception of two adult men. “Each person for oneself” seems to be the motto of the land. There is something reminiscent of Golding’s Lord of the Flies in that capacity mixed with The Hunger Games due to the surreal landscape of bastardized fairy tales.

Despite significant glimpses of life before the “End,” our narrator never hints at what happened to himself through that time period. He makes no mention of family. Possibly, the reader is being lead to believe that our hero has blocked it out. He does, however, conjecture as to the circumstances of a newer resident in his neighborhood of the park, Joyce. Joyce does not offer her own story, so the narrator wildly fills in the gaps.

Ultimately, this story is about a pre-adult who has created his own fairy tales and fairy tale landscape as his means of coping and surviving. As readers, we can trust nothing of what he says or believes. He has gone feral. Maybe, he is not alone in this.

Unsatisfyingly, this is all the story is about. There is no view of what happened, nor any reason offered as to why dozens upon dozens of kids/people would choose to hunker down in a resource-devoid, abandoned amusement park as our narrator has. It is hard to image that with so few survivors, that actual shelters and houses would not be a bigger draw and a safer option. With all of the unexplained fighting, I find it hard to believe that the participants do not know what they are fighting for if not real resources. This is one story that could have used more to tell its tale. The emphasis on short has sold itself short.
[Check out my other reviews here.]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s