Cover Image: The Night Ship

The Night Ship

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Member Reviews

I read Jess Kidd's previous release, Things In Jars, and loved the atmospheric writing. The characters were interesting and compelling but the resolution of the mystery fell flat. After being so conflicted by her previous work, I was really excited to see what The Night Ship had to offer. The Night Ship is completely different than Things In Jars, I'd be hard-pressed to believe it was written by the same author if I didn't know in advance.

The Night Ship tells the story of two children, one a little Dutch girl aboard the Batavia after the death of her parents, and the other an Austrailian boy who goes to live with his grandfather near the site of the Batavia's shipwreck after the death of his mother.

There isn't much plot here, it's a very character driven novel. If you find yourself compelled by Mayken and Gil's stories, you'll most likely enjoy this read. If you were turning in for something more action packed, you might look elsewhere.

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I found the premise of this book to be incredibly promising, however at over 400 pages I truly struggled to make it to the final page. Both stories individually were intriguing and thought provoking, but they never came together in a way that felt cohesive and tied a pretty bow into everything, they truly felt like polar opposites with very little parallel. In this story we follow Mayken in 11629 who is shipwrecked on an island off Western Australia who we find chasing monsters- when unfortunately the true monsters are closer than even she things. We also meet Gil who is living on the same island with his grandfather 300 years when he discovers this famous shipwreck. This book was far too sad, with little to no heart racing aspects, which made me struggle for the first 80%. Unfortunately, by the time I reached the end, I was so burnt out I just could not enjoy it anymore.

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The Night Ship was a wonderful example of historical fiction. I liked the multiple narrators (a young boy and girl), and was fascinated by the ship's tale.

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The Night Ship by Jess Kidd was an incredible tale of the real Batavia that sailed and sunk under horrific circumstances. The story is narrated by two young characters, one girl in 1929 and a boy in 1989. Their stories mirror each other with many significant similarities.

The writing was detailed but not over-drawn and the fictionalized part of the story was equally as good as the historical accounts of people aboard the ship. This book felt fresh to me. I read so much historical fiction and this one was completely different than anything I've read before. Love that!

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*4+ stars! Jess Kidd has intertwined two remarkable stories in her new work of historical fiction. One is the story of the ill-fated merchant ship, the Batavia, which set sail from the Netherlands on its maiden voyage in 1628. Destination: the Dutch East Indies (modern-day Indonesia). Two of the passengers onboard are Mayken and her nursemaid Imke. Mayken is being sent to live with her wealthy father in Batavia after the death of her mother. The second story is set in 1989 and is also about a child whose mother has died--a boy named Gil who is sent to live with his grandfather on an island off the coast of Western Australia. There he learns the story of an infamous shipwreck on these Houtman Abrolhos Islands, the name supposedly being a corruption of Portuguese meaning 'open your eyes:' a warning to stop ships hitting the reef and sinking. He also hears the tale that the island is haunted by the ghost of Little May, one of the survivors of the shipwrecked Batavia. Over 300 years separate the lives of these two children but the story reveals several fascinating things that link them.

So beautifully written! A tale of adventure with characters that won't soon be forgotten. My favorite character though is Mayken for all her daring and bravery, the strong bonds of friendship she forms with others. Gil is remarkable too but he's so terribly damaged by his experiences. Whenever a story is told through children's eyes like this, there is that element of their not truly understanding the adult world, of falling for fables and lies.

After seeing so many wonderful advanced reviews of this novel, I was thrilled to still be able to request an arc for myself from the publisher via NetGalley, even though the publication date had already passed. Many thanks for the approval! My review is voluntary and the opinions expressed are my own.

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The Night Ship by Jess Kidd

Unsettling, atmospheric, dark and with an unusual historical fiction setting - another fantastic offering from Jess Kidd!

Things in Jars was a favourite for me when it came out, and I quickly read more from the author. She has a distinct style, with a penchant for moody backdrops and lesser known historical intrigue. Set in a dual timeline, The Night Ship brings us aboard the Bavaria, a ship sailing for the Dutch East Indies in 1629, and to a small island off Western Australia in 1989. Based off a true story of shipwreck, each timeline follows a child who is following a monster - real or imagined.

The historical situation this book is based off of is horrifying, and not one I was familiar with. Please be aware it’s quite a dark read, with multiple content warnings.

I personally enjoyed the author’s use of the dual timeline, and found the pacing well done. It was a very gripping read, although haunting and sad. While I can’t say it was an absolute favourite, it further confirmed Jess Kidd as an auto-read author. I really think the author’s storytelling is superb and her writing style unique and interesting.

Many thanks to Atria Books and to NetGalley for access to an e-copy of this book. All opinions are my own. The Night Ship is available now!

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I really thought I would enjoy this more after things in jars. The concept of this book with 2 kids 300ish years apart and the parallels of what was happening was quite cool. The story was heartbreaking. I just thought it dragged a bit.

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I don’t think I’ve ever been so torn over a book before. This is a book I genuinely liked 50% of and greatly disliked the other 50% of.

The half of the book I enjoyed was the timeline set in 1629, mostly set on board the ship Bavaria. I loved our precocious, bored, plucky (but still just mostly a young girl bored and in need of entertainment and distraction) high-born young lady and main character, Mayken, who embraces the sea life out of both necessity and for wont of nothing to do for six months with little to no supervision on a large vessel like the Bavaria. I love how she made friends, made deals, sought out adventures, took care of people, and didn’t mind getting dirty (physically, of course) if she thought it might help make the passage of their ship just that much easier for anyone on board the ship who might need it. Reading about her adventures, trevails, bravery, and sweetness were my favorite parts of the book.

But then we have the parallel story of Gil, set in 1989. This half of the book I simply couldn’t stand. It’s not that it was difficult to read. I’ve read harsher stories. I’ve read sadder stories. I’ve read rougher stories. It was simply that Mayken’s story was so flushed out (helped out naturally by the real-life story of the Bavaria and its wreckage), that Gil’s story seemed shortchanged in terms of real plot and, instead, the author went straight for just maximum wreckage in this character’s life, almost to the point of exploitation. This half had a lot of filler, and it’s already a long book. I ended up feeling like when we were in the 1989 timeline we were just doing a whole lot of hurry up and wait. That’s not the kind of story I want to read.

I don’t normally give TW, but I will give this one because I freaking hated it when it happened in the book: there is a scene with a deliberate description of animal cruelty.

So I’d say the book was great on the historical fiction level, but not so great on the contemporary fiction level. But that ruins the whole point of the novel, and therefore the novel comes out at just average.

Thanks to NetGalley and Arctis Books for granting me access to this book. Due to the 3 Star or lower rating this review will not be posted on any bookseller or social media website.

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oh. wow. okay. dang.

so the night ship follows two kids on the same island ~300 years apart. there are mutinies, there are cute lil friendships, there are tortoises, there are spunky little girls.
this book FREAKED ME OUT. my two greatest fears are small spaces and drowning so being stuck in an island is like my own personal hell. i had to put this book down multiple times because i genuinely couldn’t take it anymore (so trigger warning if you’re sensitive like me haha). i think this is a testament to jess kidd’s incredibly immersive writing style. it draws you in and then rips your heart out. mayken is genuinely one of my favorite characters i’ve read in a while. she is my hero and i want to be just like her when i grow up. (yes i know she is much younger than me).
my one critique is that this book did not need to be as long as it was. this was partially the books fault and partially mine. i do think it was objectively quite slow but i like really fast books so…

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Wow, simply wow! It has been a long time since I read a novel that was so refreshingly different. This felt like a Grimm’s Fairytale for today’s audience. Amazingly well written, the tale of two young children 360 years apart fighting for their very lives against evil incarnate. Both tales take place on the harshest of islands where survival is uncertain even in the best of conditions. This novel is so richly laid out and won’t let your interest wander for even a moment.

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The Night Ship is a heartbreaker of a story about 2 nine year olds 300 years apart. Mayken is traveling with her nursemaid on the Batavia, a ship wrecked off Australia’s coast in 1629. Gil is sent to live with his grandfather near the Batavia’s graveyard.

Told in dual timelines that eventually converge, we read about the tragedies that befell the two children. It’s a hard story to read and heartbreaking at that. But it’s written wonderfully, with plenty of magical realism and folklore.

Thanks to NetGalley and Atria Books for this eARC. The Night Ship is out now.

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Kidd was raised in London, England but her roots are Irish. She is a successful fiction author and her books include "Things in Jars" and "Himself". This new release is based on the actual shipwreck of the Batavia that occurred off the coast of Australia in 1628. Those who survived the wreck were subject to incredible cruelties by the men who took charge of the group that found themselves on a small island without a source of water. Kidd has imagined the character of 9 year old Mayken who is on the ship with her nursemaid. Alternate chapters are about Gil, another 9-year-old, in 1989 and living on the same island...where stories of Mayken's ghost abound and the artifacts of the wreck survivors are being found and studied. This is a beautifully written story of two wonderful children in sad circumstances and is a good recommendation for fans of authors such as Diane Setterfield or Stuart Turton. I enjoyed it and the story and the child characters will haunt me for a while.

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This one is truly unique and features two nine year olds separated by 300 years. The author draws parallels between them, their lives and their circumstances that display how mature they both are for their age. Mayken features in before 300 years set up where her adventurous nature wins over all the passengers of the fated ship that ends up in a calamity. How she endures the aftermath of the calamity when stranded was really sad. On another hand, there is Gil in the recent time period who is grappling with loss and ends up with her grandfather. Both kids grew up substantially due to facing tragic situations in life and yet did not lose their personality!

The creativity in the concept and the poetic writing was simply brilliant. I did not have any idea what kind of book I was starting off and that worked beautifully in this case as it took me into a completely unexpected world. It was sad without a doubt but still makes you continue reading all the way!

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“People are more than just how they died,” What a perfect line for historical fiction based around a shipwreck. I’ve become increasingly skeptical of dual timeline narratives, but both plot lines really earned their place in this book, with parallel descriptions and themes that tied them nicely together.

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When I first started reading The Night Ship, it felt as if I were reading two different books, and I guess in a way I was. Both story lines advance the story and at a certain point, they merge to run paralell, giving the book a depth that it would not have without the background given for each main character.
This was not an easy read, you cannot "skim" through it. The story is based on a true life ship wreck, but Jess Kidd has definitely given life to much more than a sea shanty verse or two. After finishing the book, I did more research on the original shipwreck. It was very obvious that Jess Kidd had done his homework. A great, immersive read that will challenge you to look at the differences lived in times when we were dpendent on sea travel to move goods and people.

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I have always enjoyed historical fiction, and I love being able to branch out from war stories to stories that reach deep into the pockets of the world and tell a story I am unaware of.

The Night Ship by Jess Kidd tells the story of the Batavia, a doomed trading ship wrecked off the coast of Australia in 1629. While many of the characters written into the story were passengers on the ship, our two main characters, Mayken and Gil, are Kidd's creations.

Mayken is a strong-willed young girl traveling with her nursemaid Imke to live with her father in Batavia. She is quite curious and whip-smart, and travels the above and below worlds of the ship, learning about the other passengers, while also trying to stay out of the grips of the darkness that lurks in the shadows.

Gil is sent to live with his grandfather on Batavia's graveyard after his mother dies. There, he needs to learn how to adjust to a fisherman's world while he is so incredibly different from everyone else. He wants to learn more about the Batavia, and befriends the scientists working on the island.

Mayken and Gil's lives, although over 300 years apart, echo each other in ways that make the story even more impactful. These children are some of the best characters I have ever read and their grit, will, and determination make them unforgettable.

This story is dark, thought-provoking, endearing, and a bit thrilling. By the time you reach the final page of this book, you will have a rock in your stomach from all of the darkness that comes by the end of the story. The storytelling is fantastic, and I could not put this one down. Kidd clearly did a lot of research for this story, but it was all expertly woven together rather than dumped on the reader throughout the story. If you are looking to read a historical fiction about a little-known yet unbelievable tragic event, I highly recommend picking this up.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Atria for a copy in exchange for an honest review!

CW: death of a parent, suicide, child death, animal abuse, murder, homophobia

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This is my first Jess Kidd book even though their other books have been on my radar for years. I realized pretty quicklythat her writing style just isn't for me. I am going to give her another chance with another book because it could have just been the period of this specific book. I found it almost a nod to classic literature writing styles, which definitely isn't for everyone or all stories.

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5/5 stars. This is the first book I have read by Jess Kidd and it won’t be the last. The Night Shio follows two characters, Mayken and Gil three centuries apart. I loved the story line, and that it’s loosely based off a true story! I love how a book like this motivates me to research more into something I was unaware of. Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC!

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3.5 rounded up.

Part historical fiction, part fantasy, this dual timeline, dual POV story was really interesting but at the same time I struggled to really get into it like I wanted to. Based loosely on real events and great on audio narrated by Fleur De Wit and Adam Fitzgerald. The narrators did an excellent job bringing each of the young protagonists to life and yet the plot itself felt a little plodding. Maybe it was just a me thing. I really LOVED Things in jars by this same author. Recommended for fans of books like Arctic fury by Greer Macallister. Much thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an early digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review!

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What an amazing story. I loved the parallel life and was surprised at the end. The author did an excellent job of weaving the stories and keeping me wanting more.

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