DAY FOUR. By Sarah Lotz. Little, Brown and Co. 352 pages. $26.
For all the popularity of cruises, there are some things about them that scare people: close quarters with lots of other people, the threat of catching the gastrointestinal illness norovirus onboard and the distance from land and help if anything goes wrong.
Sarah Lotz plays up those fears in her new novel about an otherworldly cruise, “Day Four.”
A swiftly spreading virus? Check. Broken engines that stall the ship beyond cellphone range? Check. A rowdy bunch of hard-partying Brits who might get everyone cut off from the booze? Yes. There’s also a psychic who’s really a scam artist, and a storm’s on the way.
And then things get worse, as in end-of-the-world worse. It all goes down off the coast of Florida, because where else would the apocalypse strike? If that’s what is even happening to the cruise ship The Beautiful Dreamer.
“Day Four” is a loose follow-up to Lotz’s debut novel, “The Three,” which followed three spooky children who survived seemingly unrelated commercial plane crashes.
The confined space of the cruise ship is the perfect setting for Lotz’s suspenseful style. Once things start to go wrong, “Day Four” is a page-turner and fun for readers with easy access to the plumbing, fresh food, hand sanitizers and sanity that Lotz’s characters lack while the creepiness builds.
It’s when the cruise ship drifts into supernatural waters that “Day Four” stalls, mired like “The Three” in too many possible explanations for the horrors.
If it’s the journey and not the destination that matters, then “Day Four” is a fun excursion.
A voyage into hell, though, should actually end somewhere.