Book Reviews

Review: A Brilliant Night of Stars and Ice by Rebecca Connelly

I’ve always been interested in The Titanic. And yes it was before I saw the movie. And while I loved books like Luck of the Titanic and The Breath Between Waves, I had never read a book like this one. A Brilliant Night of Stars and Ice tells the story of the Carpathia – the first boat to reach The Titanic. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.


Shortly after midnight on April 15, 1912, the captain of the Carpathia, Arthur Rostron, wakes to a distress signal from the Titanic, which has struck an iceberg on its maiden voyage. Though information is scarce, Rostron leaps into action, determined to answer the call for help. But the Carpathia is more than four hours away, and there are more questions than answers: Will his ship hold together if pushed to never-before-tested speeds? What if he also strikes an iceberg? And with the freezing temperatures, will there be any survivors by the time the Carpathia arrives?

Kate Connolly is a third-class passenger on Titanic, and she is among the last to receive instruction and help after it hits an iceberg. Despite the chaos of abandoning ship, Kate is able to board a lifeboat, though after seeing the Titanic sink into the abyss and hearing the cries from hundreds of people still in the water, she wonders if any rescue is even possible.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

Told in dual perspectives of Kate and Arthur, A Brilliant Night of Stars and Ice is a historical fiction that delivers emotions and dread. The actual sinking takes place quite early, which I think was actually a good idea. Not only does it not keep readers in a prolonged sense of dread, it keeps the focus of the story on the Carpathia and what happens to Kate and Arthur after the sinking. Because this isn’t just a story about The Titanic from the perspective of the Carpathia. This is a story about the rescue, the confusion, and the grief.

It’s focused on a ship which pushes itself to the limit to reach The Titanic. The story of the Carpathia is absolutely one that needs to be told and I hope that A Brilliant Night of Stars and Ice does that. At the same time, it’s focused on the immense grief of survivors. The tragedies afterwards, the press storm, and the gravity of the loss. All the things we think are normal, are just warnings, until they aren’t. It also sheds light on the ability for human empathy and compassion, for adjustment and grief.

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A Brilliant Night of Stars and Ice is compelling and fast paced. I stayed up past my bedtime just to find out how it would end. The scale of this tragedy is immense with this avalanche of mistakes which add up. This is a must read for those who are also interested in The Titanic. I cried multiple times while reading it and then spent WAY too much time researching the other boats in the vicinity near the Titanic after finishing. Find A Brilliant Night of Stars and Ice on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, & The Book Depository.


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