Welcome aboard the Baltic Charisma!

There are more than 1200 passengers on tonight’s cruise from Sweden to Finland. The staff is ready to open up the bars and restaurants as soon as the ship has left Stockholm. The vibrations from the engines makes the bottles clink softly against each other on the shelves of the tax free shop. The large buffet tables are being filled with foods from all corners of the world. Four security guards are preparing for night fall, tasked with maintaining order in the utter chaos that can be wreaked by drunk passengers crammed into a space they can’t leave.

Everything is routine. Baltic Charisma has followed the same route every day, year after year since 1989. But on this particular cruise, there are two passengers unlike any the Baltic Charisma has ever seen.

In the middle of the night, all communications with the outside world are suddenly cut off. Baltic Charisma’s autopilot is steering her towards Finland, but everyone on the bridge are dead. As long as the ship keeps moving, it’s impossible to put the life rafts in the water.

There is nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide. And there is no way of knowing who you can trust. Because when this sort of evil starts spreading, it’s impossible to stop.

With Blood Cruise Mats Strandberg follows up the success of the Engelsfors Trilogy with an exciting horror novel. Just as in the Engelsfors Trilogy, he mixes social realism with the supernatural. Relationships are tested. Ordinary people are forced to become heroes. But what happens this night can also bring out the worst in people.

Mats has called the horror novel Blood Cruise ”Stephen King at sea”. The novel is being translated into several languages, and movie rights have been sold to Silvio Entertainment.

The Bookseller: “Quercus to publish ‘Sweden’s Stephen King’ Mats Strandberg”

“Mats Strandberg knows how to write horror. I bite my nails. I laugh and I cry. And I will never set foot on a cruise ship again.” – Åsa Larsson, author

“If you would like to read a good Stephen King novel, then here you have one … Don’t hesitate to book this cruise.” – Lukupino/FI

“Blood Cruise is so bloody that I do not know where to begin … Strandberg is a very empathetic author. He creates characters that we care about, even the ones that are not always sympathetic.” – Undgdomsbokheftet / NO

“With a few pinches of grave drama Norén style, a hint of romantic love and the kind of human loneliness which is easy to relate to, Mats Strandberg has created a frightful brew.” – Uppsala Nya Tidning / SWE

“Blood Cruise is both damn scary and presents a fantastic cast of characters.” – Amelia / SWE

“Buy it – Read it – Borrow it – Read it – Enjoy it – Read it – Share it –Read it – Read it! – Read it!! – Read it!! Blood Cruise is one of the books that you wish you still had ahead of you. It had me hooked from page 1.” – Plusbog, blog /DK

“You get both horror and realism in the same thrilling plot. And it is well written. He does something more than to just put a sinister plot together. The language is tight and efficient, the setting and character descriptions are on point … Blood Cruise is both a loving, sarcastic, and to a certain degree humorous portrait of a community. In true Steven King spirit.” – Berlingske / DK

“Mats Strandberg knows his Stephen King, no doubt about it, but in addition to that Strandberg sovereignly takes his story to another level where it isn’t just about horror for horror’s sake. The description of the ship, its passengers and crew and the daily trip to Finland and back again is truly excellent … the entire story also describes a society that literally is heading for disaster.” – Litteratursiden/DK

“Mats Strandberg writes as sharp as a fang, and with the safe hand of a captain he effectively navigates his bloody action.” – Politiken / DK

“He manages to create an environment which on the surface is normal, but still you know perfectly well that something lurks a second or two away, and that this something will really hurt.” – Weekendavisen / DK

“Just like Strandberg’s idol Stephen King, at his best.” – Aftonbladet / SWE

“Blood Cruise is a drama without obvious heroes. This is no classic division between good and evil, or the hunted and the hunters … This makes Blood Cruise a multilayered horror story, the perspectives are constantly shifting, and the reader is forced to refocus over and over.” – Sydsvenskan / SWE

“Blood Cruise is a deeply impressive horror story. It is immensely cleverly told … Mats Strandberg has captured the basic elements of horror, where the story of the human condition is totally laid bare. Man is a helpless child grieving in the abyss. That is big.” – Dagens Nyheter / SWE

“Let me put it this way, Mats Strandberg has written one of the best horror novels I have ever read. I was really scared. And more important, I was really touched.” – Folkbladet / SWE

“Innovative and thrilling horror novels are unfortunately rare. But Mats Strandberg’s BLOOD CRUISE is really a new spin on the classic trapped-and-scared-genre.” – DalaDemokraten / SWE

“The amazing thing about this novel is that the everyday events, the ordinary, are so beautifully portrayed … It is so good!” – SVT (Swedish Television) / SWE

“Blood splashes, the anxiety is pounding … He has grown into a fully formed writer but what impresses are his warm and respectful character descriptions.” – Tara / SWE

“In my book shelf  Blood Cruise is placed right by the best by Stephen King and John Ajvide Lindqvist. It will with 100 percent’s certainty become a horror classic.” – Boktokig, blog / SWE

Blood and death became my refuge

My mother died a few weeks after I had finished the first draft of Blood Cruise. All things considered, we had a good last couple of days while she was in the hospital. We talked a lot. She told me she had been worried that she would become ill before I had finished writing my book. It was a very typical thing for my mother to worry about while she suffered through pains that I can’t even imagine.

And then she was gone. It was not unexpected, but still difficult to believe. I planned the funeral and my own upcoming wedding at the same time. Life was upside down, inside out. And I had the Blood Cruise script to return to. The thought of working felt completely absurd. Even more absurd to be working on a novel where I killed characters that I loved, where I let blood spray through the corridors, unleashed chaos upon people who did not deserve it. Honestly, I was afriad I couldn’t do it. That it would feel wrong, in the middle of my own sorrow and loss. Instead, the opposite happened. Horror saved me and became my refuge, like so many times before.

In a way, my love of horror has a lot to do with my mother. When I was a kid in the 1980s, horror movies were strictly forbidden in our home. Of course, this only made me more interested. Back then, I thought it was just the guys in hockey masks and the cannibals and the evil clowns that both scared me and appealed to me. But today, as an adult, I can look back and see that there were other things that also attracted my child self to horror.

In hindsight, the 80s might seem like a silly, pastel tinted, bubble gum-chewing decade. But it was also a dark and scary time to grow up; there was aids, Chernobyl, the cold war, the assassination of our prime minister Olof Palme. And the whole time, my mother’s illness lurked in the back of my mind. It made me hyper-aware of death, of how easily a body can break. Horror gave me an outlet for all these unspoken feelings. I could be scared in a way that was safe. I got an adrenalin rush, followed by catharsis.

Despite the forbidden nature of horror movies, my parents let me read whatever I wanted. I was ten when I discovered Stephen King and Dean R Koontz. Reading those brick-like novels was like staring the monsters in the face. I felt stronger and braver for each new story I devoured.

Ever since then, horror is my way of escaping from general anxiety. Horror goes straight for the reptilian brain. Makes me lose myself like nothing else. And something similar happened when I went back to Blood Cruise.

To edit is to take control of the world you’ve created. I sat there with my Excel documents on the character’s clothes, cabin numbers, favourite expressions. I searched for loose ends and tied them up. But most of all, I used my own anger and heartache and worked them out through my characters. Once again, I lost myself in a horror story. Only this time, it happened to be a story I created. Blood Cruise became my refuge. It was my actual real life that was the difficult part.

I have my mother to thank for a lot. She taught me how to read, and she gave me the courage to write. She was my biggest fan, and I dedicated the book to her.