Laura Salas's Reviews > The Watch That Ends the Night

The Watch That Ends the Night by Allan Wolf
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's review
Sep 25, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: novels-in-verse, historical-fiction, middle-grade, young-adult, poetry, loved

Wow--this is a stunning novel in verse that traces the Titanic voyage through the eyes of 23 people, the ship rat, plus the iceberg that Titanic hit. There are the captain, shipping executives, millionaires, crew members, children, adults, teens, steerage passengers...Many of them have secrets, and we get to see right into their hearts. Some of them surprised me with their callousness, but most surprised me with their bravery and generosity. Even though you start this book knowing the Titanic sinks, you still are caught in its grip because you don't already know what happens to most of the characters portrayed here. Most of the characters are real people or composites of real people. Excellent end matter lets you know exactly what is fact and what is fiction.

One of my favorite characters is the iceberg. Its poems have a cold heart (ha!) and add so much menace. The first poem in the iceberg's voice ends:

Since then I've traveled southward many weeks,
for now that my emergence is complete,
there is a certain ship I long to meet.


Here's another portion of an iceberg poem:

Could Fate provide a better place to hide?
(See now how Fate is on the Iceberg's side?)
Titanic will be, too--if all goes well.
Hear how her engines hum across the swells.
See now her razor bow heave into view,
cleaving the sea's smooth countenance in two.
I see her, too, but she does not see me.
The lookouts on her mast can't make me out.
We've never been so close, my little fish.
Make haste, now. Hurry. Bring their hearts to me.
And do let's get acquainted as you wish.
Shhh. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick...

There are so many stunning poems in here. Lots of powerful metaphors, great repetition, all while being very accessible and easy to read. My only very occasional gripe with the writing was when a rhyme scheme would suddenly seem to appear midway through a poem, or near the end. That would make me stop and go back to see if I missed earlier end rhymes. Usually the answer was no (these poems are free verse, by and large), and I didn't care for the effect of mixing rhyming verse and free verse within the same poem. This happened in only a tiny portion of the poems, though. Highly recommended!

(Review copy from the library)

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