I don’t often take the time to simply read a book, mostly because I’m usually after working at my day job or writing my own stories. I’m even less likely to be reading a ‘ghost story’ because they tend to lodge uncomfortably in my imagination. So it has been very pleasing to pass a couple of days reading Sarah Lotz‘s ghost story(?) called “Day Four”.
Lotz has a simple and crisp style of writing that I found easy to engage with. The story is well-paced and I often found myself turning the page at the end of a chapter to see what would happen next. Her writing reminded me of that everyday-yet-out-of-kilter style found in early Stephen King novels, while the plot line felt quite Ballardian with ‘High Rise’ overtones.
The basic premise is simple: a cruise ship becomes stranded in the open ocean after an engine fire and repairs take longer than anyone could expect. The Captain has locked himself away on the bridge and is never seen, whilst the passengers and crew are given meaningless updates over the ship’s loudspeaker system by Damien. The longer the ship is left drifting the more that normal social rules break down, with people grouping into factions, fighting and so on.
So far, so normal. Now add in a heavy dose of mysticism, speaking with the dead, spirits walking the ship, murders, drug addiction and the possible presence of the devil, and suddenly things are taking very different directions indeed.
A pleasure to read, albeit with an unsatisfying, enigmatic ending.