The Horror Honeys: Hardcover Honey's Haunted Bookclub ~ Day Four

Hardcover Honey's Haunted Bookclub ~ Day Four

A Book of the Week Review by Jocelyn

Day Four by Sarah Lotz 

Your Hardcover Honey is pretty much the Queen of the Three Star Rating on Goodreads, which I know is lame, but a book has to really impress me to get four stars (let alone five which I save for books I buy multiple copies of and press into people’s hands) and if it’s letting me down badly enough for a one or two star rating, I probably just stopped reading it and set it aside. But Day Four is very much a true three-star read for me. I enjoyed it, particularly the first and last thirds, but it isn’t something I’ll be thinking about months from now. I’ll probably DVR any eventual TV adaptation… but I won’t be heartbroken if I miss it, you know?

A follow-up to the similarly apocalyptic The Three (which I liked much better), Day Four stands alone as well.  Focusing on a cruise ship, “The Beautiful Dreamer,” Day Four details a trip gone horribly wrong, and it made me ever more determined to NEVER take a cruise. The book starts very strong as the ship grinds to an unexplained halt on the fourth day of its journey. On board is a colorful cast of characters including Celine Del Ray, well-known medium, her assistant Maddie, and a blogger named Xavier who is on board purely to track and debunk Celine’s attempts to connect people with their dead loved ones. Also on board are friends Helen and Elise, who are expecting this to be their very last trip as they plan to commit suicide at its conclusion, and vanilla Midwestern couple Gary and Marilyn, frequent cruisers and your typical stereotypical cruise couple, except that Gary is hiding a dark secret. The ship’s doctor, Jesse, is a former drug addict, and the most competent employee on board, Althea, seems to be covering for a handful of other employees at any given time, while she worries incessantly about her possible pregnancy.

As soon as the ship stops, things start happening – a dead girl is found in one cabin, people start seeing unexplained visions, and Celine’s obvious fakery and cold reading start to become warmer.  MUCH warmer. This initial scene-setting worked great for me, as people’s cheer starts to fade, fear begins to rise – and with bathrooms out of order, things get messy in a hurry. Honestly I think I would rather see a ghost than be told I had to do my business in a red plastic bag. For reals.

Days Four through Seven dragged a bit for me – food running out, aggression increasing. I found myself impatiently skimming through another section focused on five or six seemingly interchangeable crew mates, so I could get back to the characters I cared about. I did appreciate the way Lotz brought the tension to a full rolling boil as Day Eight approached – and here the book coalesced nicely for me again, as our conclusion includes alternate reality, news-style articles, a whole empty boat with no survivors on board (“Titanic meets Lost!” will read the ads for this series a year or two from now on TNT or FX), and interviews with a few of those major characters as they decompress at an undefined location.  But The Troop did this sort of stuff much better, in a tighter timeframe.

Hardcover Honey verdict: Three out of five stars – another that I think may work better as an audiobook or TV series.