What it’s about:
In this tightly wound, enthralling story reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s works, Laura (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…
With surprising twists, spine-tingling turns, and a setting that proves as uncomfortably claustrophobic as it is eerily beautiful, Ruth Ware offers up another taut and intense read in The Woman in Cabin 10—one that will leave even the most sure-footed reader restlessly uneasy long after the last page is turned.
The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware is a psychological thriller. It is set primarily on a “boutique” cruise ship that is sailing from London to northern Norway for a glimpse at the Aurora Borealis.
In the start of the book, Lo Blacklock is in the middle of being burglarized. With each turn of the page, Lo’s stability becomes more and more questionable, and she becomes a less reliable narrator. Her longtime boyfriend, Judah is a stable bloke whose job takes him away from Lo frequently. He wasn’t in town when she was burglarized, but he is getting the brunt of her irrational responses. While Judah’s “page-time” is minimal, he is key to Lo’s story. The remaining characters are primarily the rest of the guests on the cruise who happen to be travel writers like Lo. Richard Bullmer, the owner of the ship, hopes the travel writers along with the few potential investors on board will bolster his cruise business.
Lo happens to be assigned to cabin 9, and when she hears a scream in cabin 10 and a splash, she is alarmed that someone has fallen or been pushed overboard. Lo can’t let go of what she is sure she has “witnessed” even though all guests and crew are accounted for. As the cruise progresses and Lo continues to question the potential crime, her reliability and sanity come more into question. I was never quite sure of the veracity of the clues she found.
The multiple plot twists has Lo questioning everyone aboard the ship. She doesn’t know whom she can trust, and she doesn’t realize until it’s too late that she might have shared too much with the wrong person. In addition to her increasingly paranoid proceedings, Judah and Lo’s parents are becoming frantic because she is uncharacteristically incommunicado. Judah’s concern for Lo is told through newspaper articles, emails and forum discussions; it was an interesting way for Ms. Ware to communicate what was going on back home. The combination makes for a riveting tale.
The characters didn’t overwhelmingly charm me, but I found the storyline engrossing. The plot tension in Woman in Cabin 10 steadily increases through the story as Lo’s background is revealed and as more clues about the other passengers are discovered. I enjoyed Lo’s slippery slide into apparent madness as well as the exciting ending which took me completely by surprise. The Woman in Cabin 10 is a clever thriller.