Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. The sky is clear, the waters calm, and the veneered, select guests jovial as the exclusive cruise ship, the Aurora, begins her voyage in the picturesque North Sea.
At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a dark and terrifying nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong…
While I wasn’t really a fan of Ruth Ware’s previous book, In a Dark, Dark Wood (I’d rate it a maximum of three stars), I love thrillers and am always willing to give a new one a chance. I randomly decided to pick up The Woman in Cabin 10 when I couldn’t find the books I was actually looking for at Barnes and Noble, and I am SO GLAD I did. This book had enough little twists that I was fully invested and read it in just a few days.
At first, I wasn’t sure if I liked Lo, the narrator/protagonist. She reminded me a little bit of the narrator from The Girl on the Train, even down to the alcoholism. But I ended up sticking with her, because she was so conflicted as a person that it just worked for the story. And anyone who reflexively knees an ex-boyfriend in the junk after he basically gropes her is a star in my mind. (Even though she ended up feeling badly about it, whereas I would have kicked him again for good measure.)
I also liked that everyone on the ship was a little sketchy, but not in super obvious ways. Usually when an author tries to get me to incriminate one specific character, I know almost immediately that it’s not actually going to be that character and then the skepticism becomes pointless. And even when I decided I knew who the baddie was in this story, I still ended up being wrong because the truth was much more complex than I imagined.
The whole ship setting was great as well. I didn’t even read what this book was about before buying it, so I assumed cabin meant woods, which is waaaaay overdone now, but a ship was something I don’t usually get outside of a Carl Hiaasen novel. Plus, I’m claustrophobic (to the point where thinking about that time I was on a submarine almost makes me hyperventilate), so Lo’s reaction to being isolated was relatable.
The author also does some interesting things with the timeline of the story, and separates the whole thing into parts, which builds drama.
Lo’s inner monologue got to be a bit repetitive at times. There’s only so many ways you can convey that a character is scared or worried or feeling sick before I’m like, OK I GET IT LET’S MOVE ON PLEASE. I think the book would have been faster paced if the author had eliminated some of the repetition.
Also, while I didn’t predict the ending as a whole, when the details are revealed they do seem a little cliché. I obviously won’t get into this any further to avoid spoilers, and I might only be thinking this because I’m a thriller junkie and rarely surprised, but I just wanted to be honest!
The Woman in Cabin 10 was an unexpected thrill ride, keeping me on my toes the whole time. It makes me very excited for Ruth Ware’s next story, which comes out this year. Anyone who likes a good mystery should pick this up, and then let me know! I always love hearing who people think is the baddie, and then their reactions at the reveal.