Day Four is the sequel to Sarah Lotz previous chiller, The Three, but one that’s designed to work entirely on its own, and you could easily get away with reading them in the ‘wrong’ order. The connections are both obvious and subtle, and they both share the theme of claustrophobic transport; The Three is a tense drama that revolves around planes, Day Four is set on a cruise ship.
The comparisons stop there, however. The Three is a creep-fest, whereas Day Four is a slow burn thriller. Day Four is entirely set on the incredibly tacky cruise ship The Beautiful Dreamer, which has stalled somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico. As you may gather from the title, much of the action takes place on day four of the journey. Lotz introduces us to a variety of strange and interesting characters, each with their own unique perspective and take on life. We meet the PA to a celebrity psychic, a chambermaid, an elderly couple and a man called Gary. Each has their own story to tell and their own secrets to keep.
The plot proceeds at a leisurely pace, rather like a working cruise ship, and the narrative is stitched together from multiple points of view. The story flits from one person to another, building up a steadily disturbing narrative. Lotz taps into the everyday and mundane fears we have here; the revulsions and disruptions that make a normal day unpleasant. Inevitably, things get worse as the tale heads from claustrophobic thriller into spooky thriller.
Each horrible moment is driven by despair and the fear of death, making this a dark yet compulsive experience. It is very much a slow burn of a book; Day Four is, oddly enough, not meant to be read in a day. With a large cast of characters and a series of weird things going on, the meandering pace works best when you slow down and take your time to absorb each nasty thing that’s happening.
If you’re looking for a nice and spooky holiday book, but don’t have room in your bag for a Stephen King style shelf-breaker, then this is the next best thing. Densely packed and built for pleasure, Day Four is a cruise you’ll never forget.
INFO: DAY FOUR / AUTHOR: SARAH LOTZ / PUBLISHER: HODDER AND STOUGHTON / RELEASE DATE: MAY 21ST