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The Cartographers: A Review

This novel by Peng Shepherd takes place today and tells the story of Nell, a woman who loves maps. But when she discovers that the map that ruined her life has secrets, she is determined to find out all of them


Image of the cover of "The Cartographers" a novel by Peng Shepherd


Stars: 4.5/5


Nell lost her one shot at her dream job seven years ago, all because she refused to believe that her discovery, found in a junk box within the storage of the New York Public Library, was not the discovery of a lifetime. What makes it worse is that it was her very own father who shut her out of the map community. And she's been struggling to make ends meet ever since. Yet, when her father dies she realizes that the old map that looks completely worthless, may have a secret. And as more secrets are revealed, the truth of her mother's death when she was a toddler, for example and why her father kept her at an arm's length, Nell realizes she is in for a lot more than she bargained for. Especially when there's a mysterious car following her around.


The pacing of this novel is truly Shepherd's strong point. We get just enough in the beginning to want to keep reading. The tension is there but it isn't rushed or forced in any way. And as we near the climax, it is impossible to set the book down for any length of time. There are so many amazing stories woven in, and the fact that certain chapters are told from the perspective of other characters give us just enough clues to put the pieces together right before our main character does. And, in a perfectly ironic situation, we can see the danger even as she bullheadedly charges into it, map in hand. Add to that the various love stories including Nell's, her parents' and a few others we get to see the whole world. Perhaps Shepherd, in a way, was trying to create a map through her prose. One that led us perfectly to the ending that satisfied greatly.


Would I recommend this? Definitely. It was a charged and fun read.

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