The woman in cabin 10, a mystifying treat for those who enjoy a good psychological thriller mixed with adventure and a slice of anxiety. This book has many of the features that I look for in a fictional read including mystery and adventure along with luxury and elegance. The book’s author, Ruth Ware, grasps our attention from the gecko when the main character Lo Blacklock, a writer for a high-end travel magazine called Velocity, is awakened to noises in her home. After a few moments, she realizes that there’s an intruder. I think that a break and enter is something that we all fear which is why this invasion of privacy, in the middle of the night, caught my attention. Lucky for Lo, she lives to tell this story but it’s from then onward that things really start to go south for her.
Following the invasion and her strange reaction to the event including her reluctance to tell the police, her boyfriend, family and work, Lo is offered a work opportunity to board a small luxury cruise ship heading for Scandinavia to see the Scandinavian fjords. The cruise ship offers 10 cabins, the finest meals, spa treatments and the best views that the fjords have to offer. Lo doesn’t want to pass up on this opportunity, especially since it was only offered to her because her colleague was on maternity leave. Knowing that this would be a trip of a lifetime and that it may also allow her to climb up the ranks at Velocity, Lo decides to go anyway. Little did she know, her trip would begin with a murder of a beautiful young woman.
While preparing for the first evening on the ship, Lo realizes that she forgot to pack her mascara. She knocks on Cabin 10’s door and a beautiful brunette answers. Trying to get Lo to leave quickly, the brunette gives Lo her mascara and tells her to keep it. Lo finds the girl’s behavior odd but leaves it at that. While at dinner, she looks for the girl from cabin 10 but she is nowhere to be found. At the end of the night, while lying in her bed, Lo is sure that she hears a woman thrown over board. She is convinced that she heard the woman from cabin 10 scream, that she saw her body float away underwater and that there was blood splattered on the glass safety barrier of the veranda next door.
Lo reports the incident to security but they don’t seem to believe her. They know that she had been drinking heavily the night before and saw that she was taking antidepressants. According to the ship’s management cabin 10 was empty. Realizing that security wasn’t taking her concerns seriously she tries to get anyone to listen to her. Someone else had to have seen the woman in cabin 10. She goes on to interview the staff, Mr. Richard Bullmer (the ship’s owner), and other passengers but everyone is reluctant to believe her since all of the passengers are accounted for. But how could this be? Lo knows that she borrowed mascara from the woman in cabin 10 and that she saw her belongings in the room. Unfortunately for Lo though, after having reported the apparent murder, Cabin 10 had been cleaned and there was no sign of anyone having stayed there.
I have to admit that I questioned Lo’s state of mind once she boarded the trip. I wasn’t sure if she experiencing PTSD from her own home invasion (which is totally understandable), whether or not she was an alcoholic since she had been drinking a lot since the invasion, or whether or not she was totally losing it.
Despite being warned on a couple of occasions to stop investigating into what happened to the missing woman, Lo continues to push on. Not only does the mascara, the only evidence proving that the mystery woman existed, go missing from her room, she is also warned to stop looking into the murder when she awakens from her spa treatment and sees the words STOP DIGGING written in the mist on the mirror.
To make matters even more complicated Lo’s ex, Ben is also on the ship and he appears to be hiding something. After doubting his innocence, Lo begins to wonder if he could have bee involved. Could he really have it in him to commit murder? Lo doesn’t trust anyone anymore, not even Ben. Everyone on board is a suspect.
Despite being warned, Lo continues on until she is hit over after chasing after what she thought was the woman in cabin 10. A little while later, she awakens to find herself locked in a tiny space without windows, well below sea level and realizes that no matter how loudly she screamed, no one would ever hear her. She realized that she should have listened. She should have let things go. What were they going to do with her now? Who were they?
Lo spends days in this claustrophobic space, only to realize that she is being held by the ship’s owner’s lover, Carrie. A woman who had been disguising herself as his sick wife Anne, during the trip, and who was responsible for throwing Anne’s body overboard. Turns out Richard Bullmer, was waiting for his wife to die so that he could inherit her fortune. To make matters worst, Richard brainwashed Carrie into believing that he loved her and to do his dirty work. After coming to this realization, Lo decides that her only way out of this alive is to convince Carrie to let her go otherwise Richard would kill her too. She had seen too much.
After being beaten, held captive for days, barely eating and left to wonder what will happen to her she manages to convince Carrie to let her go. Carrie devises an escape plan. The girls will exchange identities and try to make it seem convincing to Richard that Lo fought Carrie and managed to escape. Carrie insists that Lo must hit her hard on the head to make it believable. Lo tries but she’s unable to get herself to do it hard enough so Carrie does it herself. She throws her head into the bed railing causing a lot of blood loss. It’s at this time that Lo realizes the severity of the situation and that this poor girl would need help. Carrie tells Lo to leave her and run quickly because Richard would be returning shortly and run she does. Although Lo feels guilty for leaving Carrie behind, locked up and bleeding in the small cabin, she knows that she has no other choice if she wants to live.
After making a dramatic escape off the ship into the cold sea and ashore into a bed and breakfast Lo quickly realizes that the owners know Mr. and Mrs. Bullmer well and that they have notified the cruise ship of her arrival. Lo has no choice but to run again. She finally ends up crawling into a barn and, to her surprise, she falls asleep for a day and a half. Lucky for her, she is found by a nice old man and his dog who manage to finally bring her home to safety.
It isn’t quite clear how she makes it home but she does and both the break and enter and her experience on the cruise ship make her realize what is most important in her life. Being with her boyfriend and moving with him to New York to pursue both of their careers.
So, what did I think? Well, I give this book a 6.5/10. Although it kept my interest and I really wanted to know if Lo was having a mental breakdown or if there was really a woman in cabin 10, I didn’t love this book. There were a few captivating events but they weren’t enough to keep my attention. I also felt that I was being rushed through the main events and that they could have been explored a bit more. I did find it interesting how Ruth Ware incorporated Lo’s anxiety throughout this book. She successfully managed to make me understand what it feels like to have an anxiety attack. Lastly, I think she did a great job describing the solitude one would feel being held captive in a small space, alone, without a clock or any idea of who was keeping you hostage. This was very scary.
For those of you who have read this, please let me know what you thought of this book and if you have any suggestions for my next read I would love to hear them.