Blood Cruise by Mats Strandberg (first published in 2018 by Jo Fletcher books)

Marianne has decided to throw caution to the wind and go on a cruise. 

Granted, it’s only an overnight cruise between Sweden and Finland, but it’s so far out of her comfort zone that it’s still the ultimate adventure. 

The Baltic Charisma, known affectionately by the clientele as a booze cruise, presents Marianne with an opportunity to be young again; to be free.

Calle, an ex-employee of the ferry, is coming back after eight years to propose to his boyfriend, Vincent. Nervous and excited, he has the buy-in of his old colleagues in helping him set up the perfect romantic proposal.

Albin is going to be on the cruise with his family, including his cousin and best friend, Lo. He only hopes that his dad, who has a penchant for drinking too much, behaves himself on the ship.

A multitude of other people are on-board the cruise for their own reasons, and everyone seems to be having a good time, in varying degrees of intoxication, when a strange contagion breaks out, infecting those on the ship faster than you can say, ‘contagion’. 

The infected become violent, aggressive, and have a desire to bite and attack their fellow travellers.

Here’s something incredibly addictive about horror literature of any kind, but particularly when it comes to well-written, skin-crawlingly skillful writing, as Mats Strandberg exhibits. 

Your average vampire story is given fresh blood in this contemporary thriller, while maintaining a vintage Gothic feel. The trapped travellers and twisted predators make for an incredibly tense, exhilarating read. 

Reminiscent of John Ajvide Lindqvist, this Swedish vampire story ticks all the right boxes. It is a testament to the author’s skill that this impressive tome, at over 500 pages, is such an easy, quick, read, that leaves you turning pages in a hurried, frantic fashion. Blood Cruise is top-notch horror that’s beautifully crafted to scare and dazzle.

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