March 2nd, 2021 by Jane Turner
This review of Travel by Night by Sophie Morton-Thomas comes through a Blog Tour by Damppebbles. Travel by Night was published by Darkstroke Books on 15 Jan 2021 in paperback and ebook.
A nebulous memory. Caught in a dangerous trap. A life-changing discovery.
When Yalina wakes in hospital following surgery, she doesn’t recognise her own parents.
Following her release, she decides to meet her estranged brother, Ali, in Sheffield. On her arrival, Yalina is taken to a house where girls are held against their will and forced into sex slavery. Too late, she realises she has fallen into a trap.
Over time, Yalina discovers a love of playing the old piano that lives in the house. It keeps her sane. As friendships blossom between the women, Yalina finds herself taking a young girl, Rebecca, under her wing.
When the women are threatened with violence, Yalina reluctantly accepts help from a stranger she met in the house. But he carries a secret that could impact on her whole life.
Will Yalina escape her captors? And how will she cope with the unexpected revelation?
Travel By Night was an interesting read, though I found it a little difficult.
A creepy and stark anti-fairy tale, this one will push buttons…
It’s not graphic or bloody. There’s no great detail of acts or violence – indeed, Yalina as narrator skips over any nasty bits, almost like she’s shut down for that bit, memory blocked. But the anxiety and distrust she feels comes through well on the page.
The characters are pretty well fleshed, though we actually find out little about them. They are all shadowy figures – defined by their personality, or by their deliberate cruelty. Ms Morton-Thomas doesn’t really go into the nitty gritty, simply covers Yalina’s day-to-day over the course of her year long torment.
We meet the other women in her world, but only one or two play more than bit parts. We meet her captors, their colleagues and a couple of punters – but again not much detail is given. As if Yalina’s brain skips over so much that doesn’t directly impact her. (It happens. I’ve had it happen. Memories of events come in flashes.)
What does come through, and perhaps I recognise it because women experience it every day, is the total dominance of the men and the lack of strength and confidence in the women. Not just physical strength, but mental strength – how quickly the ‘fight or flight’ instinct is supressed, and how being resigned to your circumstances affects you.
My difficulty with it?
There was a disparity between why I thought she did something and why she tells us she did something. Going further would give spoilers, but it jarred me a little.
As did the ending.
All in all, though, Travel By Night is worth reading. It gives insight into the little things that keep us going.
Sophie Morton-Thomas is a British writer based in West Sussex where she lives with her husband and children. She’s an English teacher by day and a Creative Writing Masters degree student and writer in her spare time.
Travel By Night is her first novel, and is set in Sheffield, where she lived for a number of years.
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