Cover Image: The Night Ship

The Night Ship

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Member Reviews

4.5 stars, rounded up. This was such a unique read! It ties together two lives, hundreds of years apart, in such a seamless and spectacular way. I was mesmerized by it.

The story takes place both in 1629, following Mayken, and in 1989, following Gil. Each child is recently motherless, finding themselves on a journey to discover their “new” place amid a cast of found family members. The characters are all unique and heartbreaking in different ways, my favorites being Enkidu and Holdfast.

If you read straight through without thinking about it too closely, you almost believe you are reading two separate stories. But it soon becomes apparent that it’s really just one story, centuries apart, with small tweaks to names and events. The prose is magical, and the imagery captivating. I was actually shocked to find out that the Batavia story is true, which made me love this novel even more.

But what is it actually ABOUT, you ask? It doesn’t matter. It’s a story of struggle and sacrifice, loneliness and belonging, friendship and betrayal. It’s a story of everything. I devoured it, and I recommend it highly.

Huge thank you to Jess Kidd, Atria Books, and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this ARC!

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Beautifully written historical fiction novel!

This is my first Jess Kidd novel and I am a fan! It took me a minute to get into it, as the pacing was a little slower than what I like, but it helped me to connect to the characters and really envision the setting. I'm off to buy another Jess Kidd book now!

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC!

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I almost closed this book and didn’t open the pages again, I just couldn’t get into it. I think those who are into more of a historical fiction with an “almost” fantasy spin would like it. I’d never heard of this shipwreck, as I think it’s based on a real story and I’d never even heard of Batavia.

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It doesn’t take long for this book to lure you in. Both of the parallel timelines present their own compelling story and the seemingly slow build of dread suddenly spirals into a tension that demands “just one more chapter…”

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I love Jess Kidd and she just keeps getting better. This book blew me away. All the emotions a person can feel, wrapped up in one brilliant book. Perfection.

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A bewitching place on a remote island, with timelines more than three centuries apart. A tragic, legendary shipwreck, with consequences for the survivors too awful to contemplate. Two orphaned children, Mayken and Gil, one for each timeline: a girl and a boy, both coming of age. Neither of the children is comfortable with their gender roles and both are into cross-dressing. Both children believe in an ancient, terrifying, eel-like monster with the power to surreptitiously kill. Mayken hopes to capture the monster; Gil hopes to evade its power.

But is the monster real? Or is it just a reflection of other monstrous personalities in the characters' timelines and throughout all time, eager and ready to prey upon weak, tenderhearted misfits?

Jess Kidd writes fluidly and manages the time leaps seamlessly. The only reason I put the novel down at all was because I was too frightened for the children and needed a break.

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I only made it 30% of the way through this book. It is historical fiction, but there are also strong, disturbing horror elements throughout both storylines, which were not mentioned in the description. I found myself feeling physically ill throughout, so I abandoned this book. The writing was very good, but it needs to be advertised as a historical and horror novel.

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This is the first book I've read by Jess King. I enjoyed it and look forward to reading more of her books. I was interested o discover that this was based on real events. It's a dual timeline, alternating between Maykin in 1629 and Gil in 1989. I usually like dual timeline books, but I felt that the alternating ever other chapter made it hard to get into each story. Both stories are intertwined. Maykin is setting sailing from Holland to the Spice Islands and Gil is living on that Island. Both children are recently orphaned. The book is haunting and sad with a touch of magical realism.

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Simply beautiful. I enjoyed the dual timelines and the originality of this story. I haven't read many books that are set in Australia and I certainly would like to read more of them! This book was a little haunting and dreamy and quite perfect for reading at night.

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Thank you to Atria Books (Simon & Schuster) and NetGalley for a digital ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review!

The Night Ship is a historical fiction book based around a real-life shipwreck that occurred in the 1600s. The story takes place on dual timelines, following two children who interact with the same island over 300 years apart. Mayken is on a ship heading for the Dutch East Indies to live with her father after her mother’s death. Gil is also struggling with grieving his own mother as he is sent to live with a grandfather he barely knows on a tiny fishing island. Their stories parallel one another as both of them learn to form new friendships, tackle loss and healing, and are forced to face the brutalities of life at far too young of an age.

I’m not quite sure why I requested this book. I’m not a huge historical fiction reader, but the cover and description immediately caught my interest. I adore the setting of ships. There’s something so claustrophobic, yet eerily beautiful about being stuck on a boat at sea. I’m so glad I was approved for this read! It was atmospheric and haunting. I did not know about the Batavia shipwreck until I discovered this novel. I learned so much about an important piece of history! Props to the author for doing thorough research, as it appears like she put a lot of work into getting the facts right.

I truly enjoyed The Night Ship! It was my first book by Jess Kidd, and I’ll be sure to pick up her work in the future. This is a well-orchestrated novel. You can tell the author spent great deal of time considering how she wanted the story to go and lining up the dual timelines. There are many magical little moments where parts of Mayken’s story bleed over into Gil’s. If you pay attention as you read, you’ll notice tons of tiny details that overlap in both of their timelines. I thought it was cool how their stories seemed to flow together throughout the novel, rather than just meeting at the end. Growing up, I always wondered if the people who lived in my area before me had the same thoughts and feelings about the world as I did, so it was neat to see the author explore that concept of ideas and observations reappearing over time.

The characterization is really great here. I’m not a huge of fan of reading through kids’ point of views, but the author pulls it off well. The two main characters are mature for their age (unfortunately for them, it’s because they were forced to grow up during trauma they experienced). They’re both nine years-old, which makes them old enough to get around okay independently, but young enough to keep their childish innocence, which contrasts starkly with the horrors they face. The side characters are interesting, and I liked how many of them developed more as the story went on. There’s also a grumpy pet tortoise who is truly fantastic.

The writing is strong, bringing a good atmosphere and a nice use of folklore. I like how Kidd has her own voice. The writing seems self-aware and even witty at times. Historical fiction can bother me, because I feel it often does not capture the right tone of the time in which it’s set. Kidd encapsulates the time and the location of Mayken and Gil's stories well.

The author also uses the dual narratives in a refreshing way. Gil is very interested in the shipwreck, and throughout the story, characters tell him more tidbits about what went down. It was pretty horrific, because I knew that whatever terrible thing he was learning about would eventually happen to Mayken. I’ve read thrillers that do the same thing, and they often get repetitive. In The Night Ship, though, this form of storytelling only made it all the more sad and grim. I was sitting on the edge of my seat wondering how Mayken would handle these upcoming terrors (and yes, they are very gruesome, so be prepared for that before reading).

This is a hard novel to rate, because I haven’t read anything quite like it. It made me cry a couple times and genuinely transported me into another world, which automatically puts it pretty high in my rating system. It had a few issues, though, so I still don’t think I can give it five stars.

The pacing was occasionally a bit slow for me, particularly in the first half. I wanted more background information about Mayken and Gil. Mayken has a strong personality, so I wished I could have known more about what made her that way. It bothered me a little that, in 1989, Gil was sent to a remote island without much supervision and where he seemingly wouldn’t receive an education (although, in the author’s defense, this is written from his POV, so maybe there’s an explanation that Gil simply wasn’t aware of himself). As I’ve been saying throughout my review, the author did use the two timelines in a unique way, but I was still hoping for a bigger crossover in the end. I also hoped the magical realism would build to something, when in actuality, it simmered out over the last 100 pages.

My other complaint is that I wish the author had inserted more themes into this book. I’m not quite sure what her messages were or why exactly Gil’s point of view was included. His story is heart-wrenching and important, but I’m not positive why it needed to be included alongside Mayken’s. I’m not a literary fiction snob by any means, but I would argue this book has so much potential to be a critically acclaimed novel if it just had a few stronger themes. To be fair, it’s completely possible that the messages went over my head. However, I would be able to recommend it to so many more people if I could better articulate some themes beyond all of the horrors the characters faced.

Aside from those issues, this is a standout novel that I won’t be forgetting anytime soon. It’s vivid, dark, and a harrowing experience to read. I think it’d be a good book club pick, and I actually wouldn’t mind rereading it someday. I imagine there are many details I missed in the first half now that I know how the story unravels. I’d recommend this for fans of historical fiction or for people who, like me, enjoy dire stories and remote settings.

4 out of 5 stars.

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The Night Ship is a hauntingly beautiful story set in two-time periods which follows two children who find themselves in the same part of the world more than 300 years apart - Mayken in 1629 and Gil in 1989. Both worlds are richly drawn and both children are wholly believable and well crafted. Don’t be fooled by the children as main characters, this is not a book for kids - part horror story, part historical novel, and based on real events, it is heartbreaking and brutal, and even the folklore pieces add a layer of moodiness to the story. There is also kindness and bravery and spunk to balance it all out, with tangible details, well-drawn characters, swift pacing, and lyrical prose.

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I have never read a Jess Kidd novel so I was completely surprised at how dark this book was. I love dark stories, so the surprise was a good one! I really enjoyed this story and I loved that it's part historical, part magical, part creepy....just a wonderfully written tale! This is a perfect Fall/Halloween read, if you like to read books that set a good mood/vibe for the season! The cover is absolute perfection, too.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the digital ARC in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are completely my own.

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A new book from the author of Things in Jars, a wonderful and creepy gothic mystery? YES PLEASE!

In The Night Ship, Kidd tells the story of the Batavia, a Dutch vessel which departed Amsterdam in 1628 only to run aground off the coast of Western Australia in June 1629. The story is told from the perspective of Mayken, a young girl aboard the ship accompanied by her nursemaid on her way to meet her father for the first time and Gil, a young boy struggling with his identity and the loss of his mother in 1989. I just kept turning the pages because I just wanted to get to the next POV but then I’d get to the next POV and want the next one and this continued until the book was finished. I devoured every single page.

These two children, growing up at very different times in very different worlds, were remarkable. They showed more courage, acceptance and compassion than all of the adults in this book combined.

The events that unfold are full of mutiny, sacrifice, murder, friendship and chaos.

There is a small element of the supernatural to this story but it fits in with tales that would have been told by sailors in the 17th century.

At times it is creepy, and at others human desperation will both horrify and fascinate you. I think V.E. Schwab said it best when she described The Night Ship as haunting, making this a perfect fall read. I would really recommend this one to all my fellow historical fiction fans out there. Kidd’s story of the Batavia is not one I’ll soon forget.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Atria Books for an advanced reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review.

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The release of a new Jess Kidd novel is a real event for me. I often think about her previous novel, Things in Jars, as well as her phenomenal debut, Himself. The worlds Kidd creates are infused with joy, magic, and terror. So I was absolutely ready to get aboard The Night Ship.

The Night Ship is based on a real historical event, the Batavia shipwreck in 1629.The novel switches between two timelines; in 1629 we follow young Mayken, who is aboard the Batavia with her maid, en route to live with her wealthy father. The other timeline is in 1989, where young outcast Gil is living with his fisherman grandfather after the death of his mother. While adapting to his new community, Gil learns of the aforementioned shipwreck, and the ghost of a young girl that has been seen on the island.

I raced through this book. Mayken and Gil are such wonderful central characters. Mayken is strong, curious, smart, everything a strong female protagonist should be. Her adventures below deck, on the hunt for a strange sea monster, introduce her to a wealth of wonderful characters, and these characters fall in love with Mayken right alongside the reader, Given the hindsight from the 1989 timeline, Mayken’s fate is inevitable, but I still longed for a happier ending.

Gil’s story is a strange one. An eccentric boy, we learn that he has faced his own horrors before joining his grandfather. Gil is quickly identified as a target by the most cruel members of the community; the character of Roper and his family are especially savage. But again, like Mayken, he forms some strong bonds with the wiser people on the island.

In Kidd’s previous novels, there are overt supernatural elements. The supernatural is a lot more subtle in The Night Ship. While there are hints at folklore, this novel focuses more on “real life” horrors, such as evil men, the horrors of the sea, and the very real prospect of starving to death.

The Night Ship is engrossing, entertaining, and devastating. It was a real joy to grab a cup of tea, and my sou’wester hat, and dive into this story. Highly recommended for fans of beautifully written historical fiction.

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As a big fan of Jess Kidd's earlier novels, I welcomed her usual display of wild imagination, wit and memorable characters, but Night Ship was sooooooo dark. I love a bit of spook, but found I could handle this one only in small bites. I had to put it down well before bedtime each evening and read something lighter to overlay the dreadful images Kidd's vivid prose wove in my mind. I will never again look upon an eel without an attack of the willies. Not for the faint of heart!

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I am a fan of the author's other work, and I think this book is her best yet. This book is beautifully written, incredibly creepy, and ultimately, heart-breaking. Even though the conclusion to one part of the narrative was clear from the start, I was kept guessing. Highly recommend.

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