9 Books With Final Chapters That Completely Shocked You
According to the principal of Chekhov’s gun, if a rifle is hanging above the fireplace on a stage during a play, it better be used by the end. It’s about fulfilling your audience’s expectation and eliminating useless descriptions or actions. While there is much to be said for this approach — after all, it’s credited to the celebrated playwright Anton Chekhov — there are times where this rule is best ignored.
There’s nothing quite like a novel that upends all your expectations as you enter the final chapter, books with great twists. And while you can usually see the twist coming on a second read, it doesn’t matter. It’s all about that initial thrill of turning the page, believing everything is settled and you understand the plot and the characters, and then having it completely ripped out from under you.
It’s an element of a surprise that we don’t need — or want — in our own lives. It’s better to read and observe a surprise happening safely within the pages of a book. I don’t crave any particular unexpected adventure in my own life, but I’ll admit, I can be quite unsatisfied if a book’s plot goes exactly as I thought it would.
Some of the books below have final chapters that horrify, shock, or just plain confuse you. But whatever their differences, they all have one thing in common here: spoilers abound, so proceed with caution.
4. The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante
When we learn the motivations behind Lila’s disappearance, Elena seems to settle back, content with little answers. It’s in the final pages that she receives a mysterious package with no return address. It’s from Lila, of course, but what the package contains sent my jaw dropping: the misplaced doll from My Brilliant Friend, long forgotten, is within the box, and the questions begin again: what really was Lila’s long game, and how on earth did she ever retrieve that doll?