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.
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Woman in Cabin 10 is oddly a personal book for me.
The thing is, I used to work on Cruise Ships. It was quite an experience. And like any experience, it had two sides. I won’t be going into the exciting part because it is not the topic of this book, but I want to talk about the downside of the industry explored in this book.
First of all, while reading The Woman in Cabin 10, I could feel every move of the waves, every roar of the ship’s engine. These descriptions were so vivid; I was transported back on the boat. But it wasn’t a soft, pleasant feeling because it was splashed with a sensation of the anxiety of being confined in a metal box in the middle of the sea, where anything could happen to a person.
No one would hear your scream at sea.
Then there’s the hierarchy at Sea. Ships usually sail in Neutral Waters, and it is extremely hard to prove if anything happens at sea. I was a witness of more than one suicide and disappearance at Sea when a drunk guest fell overboard, or a person was so depressed they decided to end their life on a Cruise Ship. But what if it wasn’t a coincidence but a planned murder as it is happening in this book? Well, there’s no real authority at sea except for the Captain, and usually, the Captain holds the interests of a person(s) to whom that ship belongs. A ship and especially a Cruise Liner is a State in itself, with its own Government and laws. It’s a different world, especially for people who work there.
There’s no justice on the ship, not really.
Stiff airless corridors, everpresent nausea because of the ship’s movement, black churning waters, disappearance, murder, distrust from the ships’ stuff, the gaudy luxury, and complete utter helplessness: there’s nowhere to run except the Sea, and the Sea is not merciful to those who look for shelter.
This is basically what the heroine of the book has to deal with.
Honestly, reading this book proved that the decision I made one day to leave my career as the ‘Sailor’ behind me was the right one. No matter how tempting it might be at times, some people are just meant to stand on Land.
But as utterly terrifying this book was, it was also utterly breathtaking in describing the beauty of the Fjords, going deep and disappearing under the cold dark waters. The Northern Lights that shined at night, covering the horrors, even if for a moment.
Yes, there’s beauty in fear, and I highly recommend you to find it among the pages of this book.