The Cabin by Amy Cross is a 171-page horror novel published in November 2015 and available from Amazon at the low price of USD 0.99 or free with a Kindle Unlimited subscription. For Anna, it begins as a story of renewed friendship with Marit, a friend who has invited her to see the “real” Norway. Anna, along with Marit and her friends Jennifer, Joe, Daniel, and Christian will spend several days in a cabin that is remote from everything and everywhere else. Marit serves a valuable service as an interpreter for Anna. Anna has zero knowledge of English. Except for Marit, the others feel free to turn their English off and on depending on their moods. Marit, as Anna’s close friend, appears to accept her role as an interpreter as an obligation to her friend.
All is not always in agreement among the friends at the cabin. Jennifer is the most outwardly abrasive. She feels free to act in an insulting and condescending manner to Anna at all times. It is as if she is pushing Anna to see how far she can go in provoking Anna. The three boys seem to be taking turns at flirting with Anna. Jennifer’s brother, Joe, as well as Christian and Daniel all take turns at suggesting possible hook-ups with Anna. All, to include Marit seem to engage in frequently agitated conversations about someone named Karen Lund.
Karen Lund had disappeared three years before. The reader is introduced to her and the situation surrounding her disappearance in the novel’s prologue. She had been held in captivity and tortured to death in the same house where the group is staying. A film showed her in the same room where Anna slept. The agitated conversations among the friends appear to be about how much to tell Anna. Marit, and later Joe, eventually relate pieces of the story to Anna. Karen had been the subject of a snuff film. Her death was a certainty. Prior to her death, Karen had made a brief escape, also detailed in the prologue but then had disappeared again. There was a film made of her torture over several days and of her final, ultimate fate. Anna is not afraid, she is more concerned about the deteriorating and more acerbic relations between her new group of housemates. Her concern grows when Marit disappears. Now she must rely on other group members willingness to speak English for any communication.
Marit had left the group and gone home. That is the story given to Anna. To replace the loss of her interpreter, other group members, even Jennifer, become more friendly. There are barbecues and a lot of alcohol. Eventually, probably as a result of alcohol, Anna gives in to Joe’s suggestions and they engage in recreational non-meaningful sex. Actually, it meant something to Joe. He had to make sure the camera caught everything. From there, the novel descends through various levels of horror that expose the reader to levels of torture that Karen Lund had experienced.
What is this motive for group participation in the torture of Anna? It turns out that this is the same group who killed Karen. They are reenacting the earlier crime but for what purpose? What was Marit’s involvement and where is she now? The reader is taken through verbal interactions between members of the group as their characters reveal different motivations. Anna’s character is well developed. Although Jennifer’s character contributes a lot to the story, she is one dimensional and predictable. Her brother Joe is more complex and contributes a lot of darkness to the successive torture scenarios. Daniel is a cameraman and that is the limit of his character. Christian is in love with Jennifer and follows her directions. These four in concert begin the disassembly of Anna. But where is Marit?
There is lots of violence and lots of gore so this is a novel for adults or almost adults. The sex is so minimal as to be absent. There are some disturbing editorial errors. Anna’s name turns into Emma in unexplained places. Pronoun referents are frequently incorrect as they relate to gender. I found all errors in the second half of the novel. They were distracting and, in the middle of some very descriptive horror scenes, I found myself wondering why the editorial errors occurred only in the second half of the novel. Why not the first half? I don’t know what this says about the author or about what I consider valuable as a reader. For fans of this genre, I recommend this book. But I am an Amy Cross fan, mine is almost a default recommendation.