Recently, I decided to join the Paranormal and Horror Lovers group on Goodreads, so that I could connect with other people who enjoy reading/writing the genre I enjoy most. In my everyday life, my friends and family aren’t particularly fond of anything horror related, so seeking refuge in the wonderful site that is Goodreads was as good as it was going to get (and I say that in the nicest way possible, really!). As I perused the threads, I discovered one called R2R (Read to Review), which brought readers and authors together to get honest feedback on horror/paranormal pieces*. And this is how I ended up reading Paula Cappa’s Night Sea Journey.
Night Sea Journey is the dreamscape adventure of priest Raymond Kera and artist Kip Livingston. When Raymond is sent to Horn Island, RI to help build a church, he meets Kip, a woman who suffers a recurring dream about a malevolent creature that attempts to harm her. However, what makes her dreams even more tormenting is her baleful creature’s ability to transcend the dream world and reality. Kip’s dream has been haunting her for years until Raymond comes into her life and changes the playing field. Throughout Night Sea Journey, Cappa illustrates their slumberous excursions with vivid imagery and descriptions until we finally see what the creature really is and the awe-inspiring importance of interpretation.
When I first began reading Night Sea Journey, I was quickly reminded of The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty. Just like Damien Karras, Raymond Kera is also skeptical of his belief in God, Christianity, and his purpose in the Church. Kera’s skepticism plays a major role throughout the story, so having read a previous novel whose entire backbone rested on a similar situation gave me an idea on how Cappa could use Kera’s doubt. However, I was happily surprised that, unlike my assumptions, she took her priest through an entirely different journey. Kera uses his knowledge of the New Testament and personal experience to decipher what Kip is really dreaming about, giving the reader some different and new insight on the overly used biblical apocalyptic text.
Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for Kip Livingston. While I was happy that Cappa inserted a female protagonist in her story, Kip’s portrayal was not at all to my liking. I must first say that this is only a personal preference and does not mean that Cappa did anything wrong. However, my liking of a “damsel-in-distress” has been worn out. It seems that Kip can’t do anything without Kera and is constantly in need of saving. I totally get that it was part of the story, but even giving her an inkling of independence would have made me just a little more invested in her character. I did not care much for her immediate infatuation with the priest.
The one thing that did bug me was the few times Spanish words were included in the dialogue. Lorena, a minor character, show affection to her husband Garcia by saying “carino.” Unfortunately, no one seemed to catch that this word has an ñ and is spelled cariño. As a native Spanish speaker, I quickly noticed this and was thrown off from the little movie I play in my head while reading. I know it’s just a little thing and typos happen even with multiple proofreading, but I wish someone had caught this (especially since Spanish is used briefly).
Nevertheless, this did not take away from Cappa’s ability to recreate dreams as real as possible. I thoroughly enjoyed her quick transitions to the confusing dream-world plagued by a malicious-intended creature. At first it seemed very jumbled, but once I began to catch onto Cappa’s key points that signaled we were in a dream-state, her illusions became even more powerful. For any of us who dream, we know that being in this state is always misty and vague; nothing makes sense and yet everything seems to go together. Cappa is able to do this very nicely throughout the story, never sounding repetitive or boring. I have always been a fan of crazy descriptions, and Night Sea Journey was full of them, so I was extremely pleased.
Overall, I was quite content in reading Night Sea Journey. It is obvious that Cappa is a strong writer and can keep a reader intrigued, as I was constantly thinking of the story whenever I wasn’t reading. Although I wouldn’t consider it a supernatural or horror story so much as a magical realism tale, it still is something those into the supernatural or magical realism should pick up at one point.
You can purchase Night Sea Journey here. Let me know if you decide to read!
*(Night Sea Journey by Paula Cappa was sent to me for free in an agreement that I provide an honest review of the piece)