The Cartographers

The Cartographers by Peng Shepherd

the cartographers

Title: The Cartographers 

Author: Peng Shepherd

Publisher:  Orion Publishing, Orion

Published Date:  March 15th 2022

Length: 400 pages

Genre: Fiction, Thriller, Magical Realism, Adult, Mystery, Fantasy 

Rating: 4/5

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…

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. 


I absolutely loved The Book Of M by Peng Shepherd and then I also read The Future Library, it was also so good for a short story. So when I saw an opportunity to request The Cartographers, I did not hesitate a single moment. So, yeah. I am glad to report that the author did not disappoint. I might not be as much in love with this one as I was in The Book of M but it was still so good!

Let’s talk about the things I loved! First, the geeks! Omg, everybody is a geek in this book and they are all awesome! Granted I have never really been fascinated by maps to the degree these characters were but their geekery was infectious. It was full of academia which I loved but more than that, it also had family drama and some great friendships as well as thrilling crime solving and such. There is also the clever weaving in of magical realism.

The way the author blended all the genres and the way the story was laid out really worked for me. The pacing also worked so well. There’s present and past storylines weaving in and out throughout the book and it did not, in any way, endanger my enjoyment at all.

Let’s talk about maps! I learned so many things about mapmaking and in general about maps. It was so interesting and I always love it when I learn new things from fiction books so yay for that! Then come the characters. I really loved the characters and the way they were written and introduced to us. There’s representation and it’s done so brilliantly and seamlessly.

There were a few things that didn’t work for me, the key part being the first person narration. First person narration rarely works for me but this time, I could always get out of the zone because of how rarely it works for me. There are some logical plot holes that become more and more obvious as one starts reflecting on the book. The whole villain reveal was not quite the crime solving thing I hoped it would be and it wasn’t as thrilling or suspense filled as I thought it would be. I will say that I read the book for maps and cartography so I wasn’t super disappointed with that part of the book.

Overall, if you, like me, love learning about new things and enjoy some mysteries mixed in with magical realism then you would definitely enjoy this one!

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