The Woman in Cabin 10 – Ruth Ware
Final Thoughts: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Lou Blacklock wakes up to find a burglar in her house, rifling through her bag. He slams the door into her, knocking her down with a bloody battle scar, and leaves with her valuables. She finds comfort in the arms of her boyfriend, Judah, but she can’t shake the panic that creeps up whenever she is alone, or the nightmares of violence and invasion that enter her dreams. Fortunately, she is able to temporarily escape. Her job as a travel journalist has booked her on a new Balkan cruise ship setting sail to see the Northern Lights. The shop is decadent, exclusive, and only a little claustrophobic. Lou commits her exhausted self to the idea of schmoozing with the elites, and attends the opening gala, frantically borrowing mascara from the strange girl in the room next door. In the middle of the first evening, she hears what sounds and looks like a body being thrown from the private balcony of Cabin 10, and sees an incriminating and terrifying blood smear on the glass door. Concerned for the girl’s safety, she begins a dangerous investigation that begins to threaten her own safety as she nears the truth. The stakes are extraordinarily high in this thriller, and Lou puts her own life at risk against her desire to solve the crime and save the missing girl.
I read and reviewed In a Dark, Dark Wood, and to my mild disappointment, it hadn’t been the most thrilling thriller that I’d ever read. The Woman in Cabin 10 has proved all my doubts about Ruth Ware wrong, as I’d hoped they would. Lou’s journey aboard the strange ship is completely riveting, and the truth of the novel is elusive as heck. The final third of the book (no spoilers) kept me so tightly plastered to the edge of my seat. The ending of a thriller can be the trickiest part, but Ware has sealed the deal with a totally cohesive and unique conclusion.
Lo suffers from medicated anxiety, and turns to alcohol to suppress many of her nerves. Because of her earlier run-in with a home invader, she is extremely sleep-deprived, in addition to being professionally stressed. Add that all together, and you have one hell of an unreliable narrator, even if it is a bit derivative of a protagonist. The boat is a smallish cruise ship, and Lo’s investigation takes us into the bowels of the ship more than once. Ware does an excellent job of making us feel the claustrophobia and isolation that abounds in this arctic journey.
Overall, even though I’m a bit weary and exhausted of the unreliable narrator trope, and slightly insulted that almost every female protagonist of a thriller is either a scorned lover or an alcoholic, The Woman in Cabin 10 maintains a distinction from the rest of the bookshelf in its enclosed and suffocating atmosphere and surprising twists and turns. I love the direction that the novel took, and its conclusion has to be one of my favorites in the entire genre.