Saturday, October 1, 2022

Book Review: The Cartographers by Peng Shepherd

The Cartographers

Peng Shepherd
Publication: William Morrow (March 15, 2022)

Description: From the critically acclaimed author of The Book of M, a highly imaginative thriller about a young woman who discovers that a strange map in her deceased father’s belongings holds an incredible, deadly secret—one that will lead her on an extraordinary adventure and to the truth about her family’s dark history.

What is the purpose of a map?

Nell Young’s whole life and greatest passion is cartography. Her father, Dr. Daniel Young, is a legend in the field and Nell’s personal hero. But she hasn’t seen or spoken to him ever since he cruelly fired her and destroyed her reputation after an argument over an old, cheap gas station highway map.

But when Dr. Young is found dead in his office at the New York Public Library, with the very same seemingly worthless map hidden in his desk, Nell can’t resist investigating. To her surprise, she soon discovers that the map is incredibly valuable and exceedingly rare. In fact, she may now have the only copy left in existence...because a mysterious collector has been hunting down and destroying every last one—along with anyone who gets in the way.

But why?

To answer that question, Nell embarks on a dangerous journey to reveal a dark family secret and discovers the true power that lies in maps...

Perfect for fans of Joe Hill and V. E. Schwab, The Cartographers is an ode to art and science, history and magic—a spectacularly imaginative, modern story about an ancient craft and places still undiscovered.

My Thoughts: This book asks the question: what is a map? and explores the answers. It is a mystery. It is a romance. It is a story of friendship and love spanning years. It is a story about obsession. It is magical realism. 

Nell Young is a cartographer like her parents were and are. Her mother died when she was young and she has been raised by her father Dr. Daniel Young, who works in the Maps Division of the New York Public Library. She interned their until she had a terrible fight with her father over a useless roadmap she discovered while searching the uncatalogued section of the storage areas of the NYPL. She hasn't spoken to her father since he had her fired and ruined her reputation.

When she receives a phone call from the NYPL telling her that her father was found dead at his desk, she goes there are discovers a portfolio in a hidden compartment of his desk containing that same worthless roadmap. 

However, Nell soon learns that the map is not worthless. In fact, it may be the only copy still in existence since a secretive collector has been buying copies at outrageous prices for many years. As she explores her father's life to discover why this map is so very important, she learns many secrets about maps and about her own past. 

She is aided in her search by a former boyfriend who shared in her fall from grace but who has found a new job working for a tech company determined to map the world. 

This was an engaging story that kept me turning the pages to find out what would happen next. 

Favorite Quote:
Maps were love letters written to times and places their makers had explored.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

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