Cover Image: The Night Ship

The Night Ship

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Based on the true story of the sinking of the Batavia, this was a beautifully written book, especially between two nine year old protagonists who make up the dual timeline of the book.

In 1628, Mayken, a Dutch girl, boards the Batavia traveling with her nursemaid after her mother’s death, to meet up with her wealthy father.

In 1989, Gil's mother has died and he’s gone to live with his grandfather, who lives in a fishing village on Beacon Island off the coast of Australia. It is the archeological site of the Batavia shipwreck.

There are some touches of magical realism in the story. which I loved and the character development was wonderful! Highly recommend.

Was this review helpful?

Jess Kidd’s The Night Ship is a fantastical historical fiction based on the true ship wreck of the Batavia. It is filled with Australian and Dutch folklore. The mysticism intrigues Mayken, the nine-year old narrator who is aboard the Batavia in 1629. Gil, the nine-year old narrator in 1989, isn’t much intrigued by ghosts, mystic monsters, and folklore, but he is terrified of his monstrous neighbors.

I anticipated that their stories of love, loss and tragedy would intersect on the Abrohlos Islands off the coast of Western Australia where Mayken was shipwrecked and where Gil now lives, but they don’t and that was a big “miss” for me as a reader. It is easy to sympathize with the two young characters, but I found it difficult to feel truly engaged in those characters. Both are overly curious, and their curiosity leads to all kinds of trouble. Whether they were antagonists or protagonists, the broad cast of secondary characters are colorful and interesting.

I enjoyed the folklore and Ms. Kidd’s signature magical realism that she effortlessly and creatively builds into her stories. I appreciated the story layout, the character-driven plot, and the wonderful descriptiveness of Ms. Kidds’ storytelling. I truly love that Ms. Kidd has given me a reason to dig deep into the stacks of my local library for more information about the wreck of the Batavia.

3.5-4 stars

Was this review helpful?

I do love myself a good historical fiction novel so I was excited when I saw that Jess Kidd was coming out with one based on the true-life story of the Batavia, a ship that went down on its maiden voyage in 1629.

The book is told from two perspectives and timelines: the first of the young girl called Mayken that was aboard the ship in 1629 when it was wrecked off the coast of an island off West Australia; and also of Gil was who recently orphaned and sent to live with his estranged grandfather on the same island 300 years later in 1989.

Both characters are eccentric: Mayken is rambunctious and makes easily makes many new friends on the ship while investigating fables and stories; Gil does not make friends easily and befriends a tortoise (my favourite part of the novel). The two characters are bound by their shared trauma and grief.

It did take me about 100 pages to really get into it but afterwards I enjoyed the story.

You may enjoy this one if you like:

🌟 historical fiction
🌟magical elements in stories
🌟coming-of-age stories;
🌟and if you're fascinated with real-life events and books that make you run off and google to learn more.

It was ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 for me!

Thank you to @netgalley and @atriabooks for the advance e-copy in exchange for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

The dual timelines of Maiken in 1629 and Gil in 1989 magically weave together as you flip the ever darkening pages of The Night Ship. The children both face hardships on a harsh Island off the coast if Australia. There are trustworthy adults and many not so. In common, both children sense monsters—Bunyip and Bulleywack.
The writing is poetic and otherworldly. This story will remain with me for a very long time; what an achievement.

Was this review helpful?

"The dead can't hurt you, Gil. It's the living you need to watch for."

I don't give out stars easily - but this one earned every one of them! I was mesmerized right from the beginning. There are 2 stories here. The first is Mayken, in 1628 she's recenlty orphaned and being loaded on the boat Batavia, bound to live with her rich father she doesn't know. She is sent with her older nursemaid, Imke. Mayken is not excited to land (and live with her father) but is excited for her adventure on the sea. She's a girl that grows on you the longer you know her.

The second one (and the one that truly stole my heart) is Gil in 1989. He's also a recently orphaned boy who has been shipped off to an island to live with a Grandpa he doesn't know. He's beautifully different and doesn't fit in to this island or with his Grandpa well. There's just so much he doesn't know on this little island.

It will take just a few chapters before it will be clear how these two stories go together. It skips back and forth, every other chapter to each child, and each one is dealing with so many different challenges about the world and life. To get to the end and read the author's note to know this is actually based on a real ship, a real set of people and real circumstances. It's mind blowing and I love it! I will read this again.

A huge thank you to the author and publisher for providing an e-ARC via Netgalley. This does not affect my opinion regarding the book.

Was this review helpful?

I made it through 35% before deciding this book was not for me.

The story is told from dual timelines between Mayken from 1629 and Gil from 1989. I found Gil's POV slightly more interesting than Mayken’s. That might have to do with being able to connect with him more.

There's nothing particularly wrong with this book; the writing and character development were strong. I enjoyed the author's world-building and could visualize both timelines easily. However, I felt no real action was happening. The story may have picked up, but ultimately I did not have the patience to continue reading.

Was this review helpful?

A slow burn, atmospheric historical fiction told in alternating time lines and set in Western Australia. Kidd's writing is impeccable and brilliant. An engaging story with a fascinating premise. Pacing is a bit slow at times but ultimately delivers a captivating reading experience

Was this review helpful?

I loved Jess Kid's Things in Jars, have read it several times, and had been looking forward to reading The Night Ship. Getting to spend time in a world created by Kidd, with her precision of both sight and wording was wonderful, but...

The but is (and I don't think this counts as a spoiler) about 2/3 of the way through the novel and animal one of the central characters is deeply attached to is abused. Violence against beloved animals is just something I can't/won't/don't handle. I've put the book aside, frustrated that I won't be finishing it, but knowing I didn't want to continue reading once the violence started.

I am still eager to read more work by Jess Kidd. I still think she's a brilliant writer. It's just that in this title she started to take me into a place I choose not to visit as a reader.

Was this review helpful?

* 3.5 stars

splendidly fun and enjoyable…sort of like watching television back in the early 2010s. it’s that same feeling of it being night time with the lights down low as a movie plays on screen. silly at times with a bit of ridiculousness but just enough reality to grip you.

Was this review helpful?

When this stunning cover showed up on my doorstep just as the fall foliage was making its grand entrance, I dropped my weekend reading plans and picked up THE NIGHT SHIP with a few friends.

Smooth Sailing:
-An intriguing premise (based on a true story!) that caught my attention
-Jess Kidd’s talent is evident; the writing was solid
-The atmospheric Australian setting

Rocky Seas:
-The two timelines didn’t come together in a significant way
-Folklore elements got a lot of page time but ultimately didn’t contribute much to the plot
-The pacing petered out and the storyline didn’t warrant 400 pages

Readers interested in a slower-paced atmospheric historical fiction story may have better luck with THE NIGHT SHIP than I did.

PUB DATE: October 4, 2022

Many thanks to Atria and NetGalley for an electronic ARC in exchange for an honest review. Review will be posted to during month of publication

Was this review helpful?

This beautifully written book—about children in difficult situations, on and around the same island in different periods of time, seemingly linked—made me almost indescribably sad. An absolutely worthy read, but by no means an uplifting one.

Was this review helpful?

I liked the dark atmosphere of this book. It was a great read for spooky season. However, i found the plot to be confusing and the writing to not work well for me. Overall, this one just wasn't for me.

Was this review helpful?

Jess Kidd writes in an incredibly poetic manner. She is not only good at crafting characters and a story, but at putting words together. From the first page I felt like I was in the actual setting with the characters. I struggle, however, with present tense, especially with a more formal writing style. I didn’t particularly connect to the subject matter or plot, but sometimes that happens with me with historical fiction.

Was this review helpful?

Haunting and heartbreaking. Immersive and atmospheric. The Night Ship is a tale of monsters, shipwrecks, and friendship on an Australian island. Told across a span of nearly 350 years, Jess Kidd expertly weaves two unique narratives together.

Kidd’s writing is layered, elaborate, and highly intellectual. It requires quite a bit of mental focus to digest one of her books, and The Night Ship is no different. This is no weekend binge read! But her lovable characters, lush descriptions, and imaginative storylines pull you in and reward you for your effort.

It took me longer than I expected to fully engage with the story and the characters, but once I did, I was hooked! The story is emotional and heavy at times, whimsical and sweet at others. A gem of a tale! This is a book that I will recommend to others and will read again!


A huge thank you to Jess Kidd, Atria, and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Was this review helpful?

DNF @ 40%. I just wasn't getting on with the writing style. I found myself skimming through to try to get to something interesting and figure out what the point of the story was, but I just wasn't getting there. I wanted to push through to the end, but I just couldn't push through any longer. Others seem to really, really love this though, so I kind of just wonder if I'm missing something.

Was this review helpful?

This book is easily on my favorites list for this year--it was so hard to put down!
The character development was phenomenal. She dished out pieces of info here and there and really made you fall in love with (almost) all of the characters. You felt their grief and their pain and their joy and rooted for them at every turn. I loved that Mayken was so kind and brave and garnered the admiration of everyone around her, and I loved the tenderness between Gil and the adults in his life, especially Dutch and his grandpa.
The pacing and tension was perfect. By the end of the book, she had so masterfully crafted this world and its characters that I was legitimately feeling so anxious for them and couldn't read fast enough to find out what happened next. I appreciated the use of short chapters to really highlight the emotions and setting for certain scenes.
At times, the parallels between Gil and Mayken bordered on cheesy, but the rest of the book was so fantastic that it was very easy to look past that. I will definitely be purchasing this book to revisit again in the future, and no, I totally won't be spending the next two weeks scouring the internet for info about the Batavia...

Was this review helpful?

The Night Ship is about a precocious young girl, Mayken, traveling on a Dutch ship, Batavia, in the 1600's to be reunited with her father, and a lonely young boy, Gil, who, over 300 years later, is sent to live with his sullen grandfather on the island off the Western coast of Australia where Mayken and her fellow passengers had been shipwrecked. The history of the Batavia shipwreck is a significant part of the islanders' life, including a legend about and a makeshift shrine to a young girl from the ship called Little May. There's also a mythical creature that Mayken tries to catch while on the ship - and a myth about a similar creature which Gil tries to avoid. Overall, the book was well-written and engaging with a wide variety of interesting characters, including a pet tortoise "adopted" by Gil.

Was this review helpful?

Many thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Atria Books for gifting me the latest historical fiction novel by Jess Kidd - 4 stars!

Based on a real-life event, this book centers on two 9-year-old characters - Mayken is newly orphaned and bound for the Dutch East Indies in 1629 on the ship Batavia; and Gil, sent to live off the coast of Western Australia with his grandfather in 1989 after his mother's death. We go along Mayken's journey on the ship, from initial boarding to being shipwrecked on the same island that Gil finds himself on 350 years later.

I liked the way this story played out - short interchanging chapters between Mayken and Gil's lives, and the fact that Gil discovers the story of the shipwreck and those searching the island for artifacts. It's full of beautiful writing, even when the subject matter is disturbing. A hint of supernatural, ghost story passed down for centuries winds itself through this book. Both these characters find themselves on the outside of their world, never quite fitting in their own skins. I was drawn more to Gil's story and found myself anxious to get back to his chapters. Jess Kidd once again makes you inhabit entire new worlds.

Was this review helpful?

Slow and sad, but so romantically written. The details felt heavy, but I did enjoy learning about something real. I just think you’d need to be in the right headspace for the sadness. .

Was this review helpful?

I am starting this review off stating I did not finish this book as it wasn't something I enjoyed. Now that being said, that does not mean this is a bad book, the writing style is something I personally did not enjoy which lead to me not getting very far into the book. Opposed to being a bad book, it's more a reading incompatibility with the writing, I have friends I'd recommend this to because I know the writing is exactly what they would want and would love every second of reading.
I am a strong believer that not everyone will love every book and every reader has their own preferences.
If you love fantasy and are looking for a new book to read and if the synopsis of this book sounds good, grab it, you may love it! I've heard great things about this book and am sad that I just cannot get into the story telling the way the author wrote it.

Was this review helpful?