The Night Crossing by Robert Masello
This is a difficult book to rate for me because I experienced so many different feelings towards the book while reading it. I was sucked in straight away with Mina’s adventure in the Carpathian mountains, but as the plot progressed I become less and less engaged with it and the characters.
About the Book
Publisher: 47North | Release Date: September 18, 2018 | Pages: 442
Genre: Historical Fantasy, Mystery | Format: eARC | Source: Publisher via Netgalley
It begins among the Carpathian peaks, when an intrepid explorer discovers a mysterious golden box. She brings it back with her to the foggy streets of Victorian London, unaware of its dangerous power…or that an evil beyond imagining has already taken root in the city.
Stoker, a successful theater manager but frustrated writer, is drawn into a deadly web spun by the wealthy founders of a mission house for the poor. Far from a safe haven, the mission harbors a dark and terrifying secret.
To save the souls of thousands, Stoker—aided by the explorer and a match girl grieving the loss of her child—must pursue an enemy as ancient as the Saharan sands where it originated. Their journey will take them through the city’s overgrown graveyards and rat-infested tunnels and even onto the maiden voyage of the world’s first “unsinkable” ship…
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Friends, I was so excited to receive an advanced copy of The Night Crossing for review as I love spooky stories and historical fiction. A mysterious golden box, London in the late nineteenth century, and an evil that must be overcome are all ingredients that I love and I had high hopes for this book. Unfortunately, my expectations were not met: I found the writing a to be a bit lackluster and I struggled to connect with the characters. While I found the overall plot to be interesting, I struggled to find the desire to read… and the last 25% of the book infuriated me to no end.
“At night, the shadows run free.”
This is a difficult book to rate for me because I experienced so many different feelings towards the book while reading it. I was sucked in straight away with Mina’s adventure in the Carpathian mountains, but as the plot progressed I become less and less engaged with it and the characters. It was at about 75% when my attitude shifted from apathy to anger and is a feeling that very much has stuck with me 2 days after finishing the book. I didn’t like the shift in focus to Stoker being inspired to write Dracula and I found the nineteen-year jump to 1912 to completely pull me out of any engagement that I had. I was no longer invested in the story since so much time had passed, and the whole Titanic thing just irked me for some unknown reason.
I think I struggled most with dual/multiple perspectives. I was most interested in the archaeological mystery and thus was more drawn to Mina’s POV. We all know that I appreciate strong female characters, and Mina is that in spades as well as smart and compassionate. Stoker’s narrative felt the most disjointed for me – as the plot progresses, his POV becomes more and more obsessed with immortality and writing something that will achieve that (which I suppose is an interesting mirror for the antagonist’s obsession with immortality). The Night’s Crossing starts with Mina and Stoker perspectives, but more are added in as the story progresses – some are one-offs and others stick around – which contributed to my struggles connecting with the characters and plot. I found it a little frustrating to have side characters introduced with a couple of chapters in their perspective only to disappear, never to be mentioned again.
My review is definitely in the minority here, and this book is not without its strengths. I appreciated the balance of the social injustices of the period with the main characters’ response to them, especially as it relates to racism. Often times in historical fiction, authors choose to depict harmful taboos, words, and characteristics that would not be appropriate in fiction today and hide behind the historical accuracy without ever challenging those beliefs. I was very happy to see that wasn’t the case here.
Overall I found The Night Crossing to be a very interesting story that was a little bogged down by a lot of ideas. I was disappointed that the purpose of the book seemed to shift from the actual story to Stoker’s desire for immortality and his inspiration for and writing of Dracula; it felt abrupt to me and detracted from the “main storyline” for me. While this book ultimately wasn’t for me, I think people with an interest in history, the lengths that people will go to achieve immortality, archaeological mysteries and curses, and strong female characters will enjoy this book.
Many thanks to the publisher for providing me an electronic advanced reader copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. Quotations taken from an uncorrected proof and may change upon final publication.