Book Reviews

The Night Ship by Jess Kidd

The Night Ship tells two stories, both from the perspective of a motherless child, both bound to the inhospitable seas and islands off the western coast of Australia, but separated by three centuries.

In 1629 young Mayken boards the Batavia, bound for Australia to live with a father she has never met. In 1989, after the death of his mother, Gil is sent to live with his cantankerous grandfather on a remote fishing island off the west coast of Australia.

There are parallels between these two narratives as both children battle monsters both real and imagined. Both Mayken and Gil are lost souls, looking for love and friendship. Both believe in a mythical monster who is responsible for the terrible events that have happened to them. Both value a talisman – a witch stone/hag stone given to Mayken on board the ship and, centuries later, given to Gil on Beacon Island. ‘If you look through the hole, you can see what is yet to come, or what has been already’.

Kidd has created two rich worlds, populated by characters who are fully realised. Mayken is precocious curious and determined. If you are at all familiar with the fate of the Batavia, you know what is in store for Mayken and it adds a layer of pathos as you fall in love with her. Gil’s struggle to find a place where he can feel safe, both physically and emotionally, is equally heartbreaking.

The Night Ship is original historic fiction, lyrically written. Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Gaby Meares
Murder on a Monday Reading Group

Find this book in SMSA Library
The Night Ship by Jess Kidd

When you join SMSA as member, you get a wide range of benefits.

Access to the SMSA Library

We are home to a unique collection of books, a highlight being our Mystery and Crime section.

Able to borrow from the Tom Keneally Centre

We are honoured to be the home of Tom Keneally’s personal collection of books, many of which have been used as research for his own works.

Access to member only events

Join a members group, share your passions, learn new skills, make new friends and get involved.

Access to member only activities such as members groups

We provide a variety of member only events, these are relaxed social occasions to have fun and make new friends.

Join as a Member

Subscribe to stay up-to-date