This review is for Ruth Ware’s The Woman in Cabin 10, published in 2016 by Scout Press. I may be one of the latest people to the party on this one.
My Quick Summary: Journalist “Lo” takes over a high profile assignment for her ill boss. She will be going on a luxurious cruise with a handful of rich people. Before this happens, her flat is broken into, and as a result, she is traumatized. She goes on to the cruise dealing with these issues, and one night at the start, believes she witnesses/overhears a murder. She spends the rest of the book trying to figure out what happened.
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.
🍃 Spoilers after this line in the review 🍃
IMO, Lo is portrayed as an unreliable narrator because she can’t stop drinking, she takes antidepressants/has had a mental breakdown (not my view, that’s a constant theme in this book), and is generally all over the place in her telling of the events. She is traumatized by the break-in which left her feeling vulnerable and violated. She projects these feelings onto the mystery murdered woman who was/may have been thrown overboard.
Ultimately, she is frustrating. I don’t know if it’s the constant drinking when she knows she shouldn’t, the inability to say or do the right thing at the right time…. something about her just ugh, makes me want to pull my hair out. When she’s locked away, she finds the sudden audacity to confront her jailer about feelings and is punished by near starvation. It’s like… come on. I don’t know where you’ve suddenly got this superhero complex from, but this whole time I did not picture you that way.
As for the writing, I thought it was a typical locked room type story mixed with a Scooby Doo esque “I would’ve gotten away with it too!” mask reveal.
Other Ideas – It wasn’t a bad book by any means. I think some of the passages were quite gruesome in their imagery, particularly descriptions of her dreams about the woman in cabin 10. The idea of being locked in the room + the cold ocean made me uncomfortable af, so that was an achievement😬
All in all, 3.5 stars. It’s an average read with some really strong points and some meh stuff. Really like the cover too!
Bottom line, I would suggest this book to someone who maybe doesn’t read a lot of thriller/suspense and wants to get into it. Based on discussion I had with a few other readers who have also read this book, it seems like this one may seem a bit rudimentary to those who are really into this genre. At the same time, it can also be a great homage/nod to the particular storytelling style, which I have seen as a result of reading a handful of popular authors such as Ware and Sager. There’s a reason why these books are popular. I’d suggest to anyone who hasn’t read it yet… I know I’m late. I’m catching up on that endless TBR! 🙂