The Night Ship by Jess Kidd

An epic and imaginative historical novel, based on the true story of the wrecked Batavia – from the Costa Award-winner and twice BBC Radio 2 Book Club author

1629. Embarking on a journey in search of her father, a young girl called Mayken boards the Batavia, the most impressive sea vessel of the age. During the long voyage, this curious and resourceful child must find her place in the ship’s busy world, and she soon uncovers shadowy secrets above and below deck. As tensions spiral, the fate of the ship and all on board becomes increasingly uncertain.

1989. Gil, a boy mourning the death of his mother, is placed in the care of his irritable and reclusive grandfather. Their home is a shack on a tiny fishing island off the Australian coast, notable only for its reefs and wrecked boats. This is no place for a teenager struggling with a dark past and Gil’s actions soon get him noticed by the wrong people.

The Night Ship is an enthralling tale of human cruelty, fate and friendship, and of two children, hundreds of years apart, whose fates are inextricably bound together.

My thoughts on the Night Ship by Jess Kidd

This is the third book I’ve read by Jess Kidd and, while I enjoyed it, I have to say it wasn’t my favourite. It was good, don’t get me wrong, but I didn’t come away with the same feeling I had with the others – a real love of the characters and a feeling of loss that they wouldn’t be in my life anymore.

Characters are so important to me in books. I don’t have to like them – but I do have to connect with them on some level. Here I couldn’t. And I think that was down to place. My imagination really let me down here. I couldn’t picture Batavia or the island it ran aground on with anywhere near the clarity I think I needed to to understand what the characters were going through. Yes, I know life in both places was hard, and brutal, and cold, and that people ended up looking after themselves because there was no other real way to survive. But I couldn’t appreciate it. Which meant that their fates didn’t mean a lot to me in the end. And that’s a real shame because I think if things had of ‘clicked’ with the place, the people would have made more sense and I would have enjoyed the book more.

Saying that, this isn’t a bad book by any means. Jess Kidd still writes beautifully, something I’ve thought since the first time I turned a page in one of her novels. And she mixes the mystical with the everyday really well – I am not one for supernatural type books (though strangely, I love this in the TV I watch!). With hers, though, it seems perfectly natural for a ghost to appear in a scene, or a message to cross the centuries.

Which brings me to the question, would I recommend it? Yes, I think I still would, with caveats because I would recommend Jess Kidd as an author I think everyone should read – though I would probably start with Himself.

3.5 / 5 stars


Find on:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Please note I received a copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review. All thoughts, feelings, and opinions are my own.

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