Bram Stoker kept secret a tale even more terrifying than  Dracula .  It begins among the Carpathian peaks, when an intrepid explore...

Review || The Night Crossing by Robert Masello

Bram Stoker kept secret a tale even more terrifying than Dracula

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…

I expected this book to be tolerably mediocre.  Pretty but somewhat generic cover art, non-specific title, blurb plot that seems familiar. That's not a very sparkly assessment when beginning a book, is it? As readers, we understand that it's simply too much to expect that every book is going to be a 5/5. Sometimes, we just hope that it's a 3. We can settle for a 3. 

The Night Crossing happily contradicted that initial impression! 

Beginning in 1895, archaeologist Mina is in the Carpathian mountains racing to procure the perfect shot of an incongruous Egyptian Sphinx before a storm hits. They race to take cover in a cave to ride out the storm, only to discover a skeleton cradling a mysterious golden box. The story then jumps to London, where Bram Stoker presides over the Lyceum theater. On his walk home, he happens upon match girl, Lucinda attempting to throw herself in the Thames river to drown. These three characters are from different walks of life, yet somehow their stories are then masterfully woven together in a journey fraught with danger and adventure, to triumph over evil.  

I adored all three characters. Mina is determined and brave. She's intelligent and forthright in a time when women were expected to be wives and nothing else. She's had an unusual childhood but looks back on it fondly, never regretting a moment. She faces adversity, pulls herself up by her bootstraps and continues on. Bram is a gallant, considerate, and introspective man. He's a true north, noble and committed to doing the right thing. Lucinda, at first, seems like someone to be pitied, but this couldn't be further from the truth. She has an inner strength and fire that drives her to continue despite her many trials and tribulations.
Their relationships are beautifully believable and honest. Each of the characters grows over the course of the novel. While I hesitate to give away spoilers, let me just say I was very sad when it was over. 

The pacing is perfect. It starts with a bang and continues at the same romp the entire book. Even though initially the author jumps back and forth from character to character, you are never left with situational vertigo. I also love when a book not only encourages me to ferret out unknown word definitions (and Google horrid medical conditions) but invites me to learn about historical facts of which I previously had no knowledge. The author has taken real people and built a supernatural plane upon what we know to be historically true of their lives. For example, Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula, really did manage the Lyceum Theatre, and we've all heard of the Unsinkable Molly Brown, famed survivor of the Titanic. Meet them and many others in The Night Crossing.

While I expected to completely underwhelmed by this book, I was blown away. It quickly emerged as one of my favorites of 2018, teaching me to not judge a book by its cover.

If you are looking for a stunning story of mystery and peril, peppered with some menacing supernatural baddies, pick up a copy of The Night Crossing! 

Thanks to the publisher and to NetGalley for the opportunity to review. 

About the Author

Robert Masello
Robert Masello is an award-winning journalist, TV writer, and the bestselling author of many novels and nonfiction books. His most recent thriller, entitled THE EINSTEIN PROPHECY (47 North), hit the # 1 spot in the Amazon Kindle store. Previous books include BLOOD AND ICE, THE MEDUSA AMULET, and THE ROMANOV CROSS, all published by Bantam/Random House. He is also the author of two popular studies of the Occult -- FALLEN ANGELS AND SPIRITS OF THE DARK and RAISING HELL: A CONCISE HISTORY OF THE BLACK ARTS. His books on writing include WRITER TELLS ALL, A FRIEND IN THE BUSINESS, and the classroom staple, ROBERT'S RULES OF WRITING. 

His TV credits include such popular shows as "Charmed," "Sliders," Early Edition," and "Poltergeist: the Legacy."

A native of Evanston, Illinois, he studied writing at Princeton University under Robert Stone and Geoffrey Wolff, and now lives a few blocks from the beach in Santa Monica, CA.