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Illuminates the lives of two characters: a girl shipwrecked on an island off Western Australia and, three hundred years later, a boy finding a home with his grandfather on the very same island.

Based on a real-life event, an epic historical novel from the award-winning author of Things in Jars that illuminates the lives of two characters: a girl shipwrecked on an island off Western Australia and, three hundred years later, a boy finding a home with his grandfather on the very same island.

1629: A newly orphaned young girl named Mayken is bound for the Dutch East Indies on the Batavia, one of the greatest ships of the Dutch Golden Age. Curious and mischievous, Mayken spends the long journey going on misadventures above and below the deck, searching for a mythical monster. But the true monsters might be closer than she thinks.

1989: A lonely boy named Gil is sent to live off the coast of Western Australia among the seasonal fishing community where his late mother once resided. There, on the tiny reef-shrouded island, he discovers the story of an infamous shipwreck…​

With her trademark “thrilling, mysterious, twisted, but more than anything, beautifully written” (Graham Norton, New York Times bestselling author) storytelling, Jess Kidd weaves a unputdownable and charming tale of friendship and sacrifice, brutality and forgiveness.


Don't just take our word for it...

“Kidd’s latest 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, international bestselling author of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

“Jess Kidd is so good it isn’t fair.”
– ERIKA SWYLER, bestselling author of The Book of Speculation and Light from Other Stars

“Kidd shows a keen understanding of how thin the boundary between the magic and the mundane is for children and treats their understanding of the world with seriousness and compassion. Her prose has an arresting simplicity that evokes fairy tales, and the echoes between Mayken’s and Gil’s experiences are treats for the reader to discover. An ambitious, melancholy work of historical fiction that offers two wondrous young protagonists for the price of one.”
– Kirkus Reviews


Taste the very first page

1628 The child sails in a crowded boat to the end of the Zuyder Zee. Past the foreshores of shipyards and warehouses, past new stone houses and the occasional steeple, on this day of dull weather, persistent drizzle and sneaking cold. There are many layers to this child: un- dergarments, middle garments, and top garments. Mayken is made of pale skin and small white teeth and fine fair hair and linen and lace and wool and leather. There are treasures sewn into the seams of her clothing, small and valuable, like her.

Mayken has a father she’s never met. Her father is a merchant who lives in a distant land where the midday sun is fierce enough to melt a Dutch child.

Her father has a marble mansion, so she’s told. He has a legion of servants and stacks of gold dishes. He has chestnut stallions and dapple mares. Red and white roses grow around his doorway, they twine together, blood and snow mixed. By day the roses raise their faces to the sun. By night they empty their scent into the air. Cut them and they’ll live only an hour. Their thorns are vicious and will take out an eye.

Mayken’s father left just before she was born. Mayken’s mother would boast about the absent man. So wholesomely dedicated to the making of wealth…