A woman wakes up, frightened and alone – with no idea where she is. She’s in a room but it’s shaking and jumping like it’s alive. Stumbling through a door, she realizes she is in a train carriage. A carriage full of the dead.
This is the Night Train. A bizarre ride on a terrifying locomotive, heading somewhere into the endless night. How did the woman get here? Who is she? And who are the dead? As she struggles to reach the front of the train, through strange and horrifying creatures with stranger stories, each step takes her closer to finding out the train’s hideous secret. Next stop: unknown.
Title: Night Train | Author: David Quantick | Publisher: Titan Books | Pub. Date: 7th July 2020 | Pages: 400 | ISBN: 9781785658594 | Genre: Science Fiction | Language: English | Starred Review: No | Source: Publisher
Night Train Review
I really enjoyed David Quantick’s 2019 book ‘All My Colours’, a trippy horror novel which reminded me of a funnier Stephen King. His new book, ‘Night Train’, has some of the same strengths but doesn’t manage to come together into such a satisfying whole.
Like ‘All My Colours’, ‘Night Train’ reads a bit like an episode of ‘The Twilight Zone’. It takes a simple but intriguing idea and develops on it. In this case it starts with a woman with amnesia, Garland, who wakes up to find herself on a mysterious train. The train is rushing through a nightmarish landscape and as Garland explores it she meets a giant man, Banks, and a childish young woman, Poppy. It’s probably worth noting that the train is also filled with corpses and weird creatures.
The three characters are very different, but equally engaging. The way they spark off each other is a lot of fun to read. The book has some brilliantly funny dialogue, as you’d expect from a TV comedy writer with as impressive a resumé as Quantick’s. Unfortunately the sci fi elements of the book aren’t handled as skilfully, and the storytelling is a bit lacking. There is a plot, of sorts, with the origins of the train and the world around it gradually revealed as the book progresses. This is largely done through a series of flashbacks where the trio remembers bits of their pasts. Mostly, though, the novel consists of the characters encountering increasingly weird situations and cracking wise about them. It’s entertaining to read, but it feels like a momentary diversion rather than a book with any real substance.
What makes that disappointing is that ‘All My Colours’ was so much better. It pulled off that difficult trick of being both extremely enjoyable to read and feeling like it had something important to say. It dug into the psyche of its protagonist in a way that ‘Night Train’ doesn’t even attempt and also explored the creative process. By comparison, the newer book is just a fun read. It’s witty and gripping, but insubstantial.
You can find this book at many retailers via clicking on the appropriate link on Goodreads (Buying direct from retailers is a good way to support indie authors); however, in the spirit of supporting literacy programs, we would like to point out that you may be able to purchase this book through BetterWorldBooks.
For a more amusing take on a sinister train, consider 1958’s “That Hell-Bound Train” by Robert Bloch (you know, the guy who wrote Psycho).
The cover does not work for me. It does not look like a train. Trains have one headlight in the middle, and it is white. This looks like the back of the train, and we are seeing the caboose lights, but it would have been nice to see an actual train for a book named ‘Night Train’.
That’s a fair point. Although it is a futuristic nightmare train so who knows what those will look like.
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