The Night Ship

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Pub Date 4 Aug 2022 | Archive Date 4 Aug 2022

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Description

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.


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...

Advance Praise

‘Weaves a spell around the reader, transporting them across centuries, between a doomed ship and a dying island. The result is a true work of magic, and one that will haunt me for years’
V.E. SCHWAB, internationally bestselling author of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

Praise for Jess Kidd:

‘Kidd’s imagination is a thing of wonder’
New York Times

‘Jess Kidd’s stories are so magical, she should be a genre all to herself’
JOANNA CANNON

‘Kidd has imagination to die for’
Guardian

‘Kidd writes prose that is full to the brim with life’
Financial Times

‘A masterclass in storytelling’
KIRAN MILLWOOD HARGRAVE

‘A terrifically imaginative writer’
Sunday Express

‘Kidd has a brilliant imagination and she’s fearless in her use of it’
Spectator

‘Kidd’s writing is never less than surprising and original’
Irish Independent

‘Weaves a spell around the reader, transporting them across centuries, between a doomed ship and a dying island. The result is a true work of magic, and one that will haunt me for years’
V.E. SCHWAB...


Available Editions

EDITION Hardcover
ISBN 9781838856502
PRICE £16.99 (GBP)

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Average rating from 145 members


Featured Reviews

OH MY GOSH this book was everything. It was beautifully written with a great storyline, great setting and well developed and engaging characters that I took to my heart. I loved the dual timeline and this book examines what humans are capable of on both ends of the scale, it is bith upliftuing and heartwrenching at times. I will have this book in my heart for a long time. I loved it.

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The Night Ship by Jess Kidd

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.
I've been reading quite a few dual timeline books of late , and this one quickly turned into my favourite so far.
Mayken & Gil are both very different characters but unusually they are equally captivating .
The author really managed to get under the skin of both of them and made both times interesting to keep me reading until the very last page.
Didn't want it to end.

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Thank you so much for the review copy of this book! I haven’t got much done this weekend apart from read it, because of the zip and pace of the parallel stories, 300 years apart.
Mayken is a fierce and high born girl, restless at being forced to sail on The Batavia to meet the father she’s never seen in the granite palace with horses and roses. Driven to explore by her curiosity and boredom she becomes obsessed by the Dutch folk monster Bullebak. It snakes through the hold, it clambers the rigging, it sinks poisonous teeth into the extremities of sleeping passengers and crew, she thinks. People she thinks are trustworthy prove not to be so and the opium-raddled soldier, the tough sailor and others are more likely allies.
In 1969 an unhappy boy wanders Batavia’s Graveyard. His grandfather does not seem to want him and there’s an aura of something unsavoury he carries with him after circumstances of his mother’s death. The monster that lurks in his peripheral vision and nightmares is the Bunyip.

The writing is beautiful, even when what it is describing is terrible. The voices of the two main characters are pitch perfect, without any of the crashing notes you sometimes get when an adult tries to write as a child. Perhaps this is what makes the dark horrors within all the more upsetting. For however dark and threatening Bullebak/Bunyip is, there really isn’t anything that can surpass the evil in the hearts of men.
Physical objects span the centuries. - a hagstone, a whistle, a jug. Mundanities you might find while striding along a beach anywhere, here taking on a chilling significance.
If you haven’t heard of The Batavia before, I’d advise not reading up on it until you’ve read this novel, as some of the visceral punch of the later chapters could be lost.

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I have read all of Jess Kidd’s books. I thought that here last offering Things In Jar could not be topped but I was wrong.
i found I just couldn’t put this down until I got to the end. Loved the parallel stories 300 years apart. I already knew the story of the Batavia but just the same I was in tears at the end for them but also for the modern day character Gil. I highly recommend this book. It handles the violence of the subject without going into graphic detail. It would make a great reading group book as there are many things to discuss. What is evil how and why does it manifest, how can you defend yourself and those around you from it’s influence and effects I know it will keep me thinking for many weeks to come. A brilliant read.

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I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I have read all of Kidd’s books to date and they just keep getting better and better. A dual narrative storyline dealing with factual events - the sinking of the ship Batavia and the horrific outcome - is well handled and both narrators are engaging. Kidd speeds up the pace of events towards the end of the novel well and the alternating timelines are deftly handled. As is the case in Kidd’s other books, there are supernatural elements and Kidd engages with the stories of two mythological monsters to connect the two narrators. Overall a totally engaging and thoroughly interesting read.

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I was intrigued to read that Jess Kidd had turned her hand to writing historical fiction with a story based on an actual event. I wondered if she would still be able to introduce her usual magic when writing about hard facts. Of course she does and does it beautifully too.

The Night Ship of the title is the Batavia which sailed from Holland bound for the Spice Islands in 1629. The ship carried a cargo of silver coin to purchase spices, and on board, as well as a large crew, were a number of soldiers and private travellers including women and children. One of the children is the delightful, feisty, nine year old Mayken whose mother has recently died. She is travelling with her nurse to join her father and it is her story we share told in alternate chapters with that of Gil.

Gil is also nine and he has also recently lost his mother. The year is 1989 and he is living on a small island off the coast of Western Australia with his fisherman Grandfather. His story is horribly sad and I cried all the way through one chapter involving a tortoise. You have to read it to understand!
Kidd introduces magical realism with all the many links between these two children who are both facing their own monsters named according to their own country's folklore, Mayken's Bullebak and Gil's Bunyip.

The Night Ship is part ghost story, part horror story, part magical fiction and also an historical record of a shocking event which makes you want to immediately go away to research all the background facts. It is a masterpiece of story telling and there is so much more in it that I have not even mentioned. Beautifully written, heart wrenching and showing the absolute extremes of human behaviour - I loved every word of it.

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