Thursday, March 23, 2017

Book Review: The Ship Beyond Time by Heidi Heilig

First line: On a warm December day in 1884, the Temptation was leaving Hawaii, as well as the nineteenth century, and her destination was entirely in my hands.

I had been on pins and needles for this book after inhaling (and loving) the previous novel, The Girl From Everywhere (which also made my top ten of 2016). I'm really wrestling over whether this book was as good as the first one -- or better -- and it's given me a serious book hangover.

I'm not sure I can really recap the story without getting into the weeds, and I really don't want to give away anything crucial. Our heroine, Nix, and her father, Slate, have the ability to travel through time, and to any place, if given a map of said time/place. 

Picking up immediately where The Girl From Everywhere ended, this book dives into the now what? of the Nix's life and abilities. They've got a new crew member who has just learned about Nix and her father Slate and their incredible ability to sail through time; Nix's father has just decided to try, once more, to kick his addiction and he's obviously ill and struggling. Without Slate's obsessive search for Nix's mother to drive them, it's up to Nix to figure out what the Temptation's next voyage will be.

A strange run-in propels them to the mythical island of Ker-Ys, an Atlantis-like "utopia" off the coast of France. But from their first moments there, it's obvious something is amiss, and most of the novel focuses on untangling just what is wrong.

As with the previous book, Heilig merges real life history with her story; in this case, the tragic story of Donald Crowhurst and the pagan-Christian morality tale of Ker-Ys. (It's fine to be unfamiliar with both stories, as I was, and I don't think I missed anything. I had a marvelous time googling upon finishing!) Heilig dives deeply into the "science" of Nix's abilities as well as the questions of free will, identity, fate, obligation, and parallel universes, and it makes this wonderful adventure tale all the more rich and emotional.

Despite all the flash-bang of the intriguing world-building, the heart of the novel -- and what makes both books so compelling -- is its people. Nix is a fantastic heroine -- smart, competent, mature for her age without being an adult dressed as a teen -- and the other characters are frustratingly, wonderfully complicated as well.

I was captivated with this book and could not put it down; but I'm pretty sure I'm going to reread it this month because I want to be re-immersed in her world. I can't recommend both books enough, and I'm so eager to see what Heilig comes out with next.

Title: The Ship Beyond Time
Author: Heidi Heilig

Genre: Fiction (Historical / Fantasy / Young Adult / Mythical Land / First Romance / Nautical / Time Travel / Historical Figures Fictionalized)
Publisher/Publication Date: Greenwillow Books (2/28/2017)
Source: Edelweiss
Reading Challenges: Historical Fiction, Read Diverse


  1. I do like time travel but this might be too fantastical for me.

    1. the first book is more "real" if you give it a try -- and it ends nicely, so need to feel like you must read this one!

  2. Oh this sounds marvelous! I love it when authors draw from real-world weirdnesses, and I have a soft spot in my heart for attempted utopias. Never seem to work out, do they? :p

    1. Exactly, Jenny! Everything about this book is so good -- and I'm in awe of Heilig's ability to take something so crazy/over the top and make it work so well.

  3. Time travel is not a genre I am very familiar with but your enthusiastic review makes me want to try.

    1. Oh, I hope you do give it a try -- it's a wonderful two-book series!

  4. Now I am really curious! I just finished a book called The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst (nonfiction), so now I know all about him. I have to check this book out!
    Rebecca @ The Portsmouth Review
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