I’m excited to bring you a review today as part of my stop for a book tour run by Turn the Page Tours! This tour is celebrating a book that I actually picked up in my recent Book of the Month club box. It sounded so fascinating, I couldn’t resist. The Cartographers by Peng Shepherd is a mystery that is also a fantasy and it absolutely blew me away!
Before I get into the post, however, I want to send thanks to the Turn the Page Tours team and the publisher with providing me with an e-ARC in exchange for my participation with this tour and an honest review. It is always appreciated! Also, if you’d like to check out the other bookish creators helping out with the tour, you can find the full schedule here. Make sure to check out my Instagram post, as well, for a giveaway!
Alright, let’s get to the post!
- Title: The Cartographers
- Author: Peng Shepherd
- Publication date: March 15th, 2022
- Genre: Mystery/Fantasy
- Age group: Adult
- Content/Trigger Warnings: Blood, violence, stalking, mental heath issues, obsession, cheating, fire, death, strained parent/child relationship
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 also 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.
To answer that question, Nell embarks on a dangerous journey to reveal a dark family secret, and discover the true power that lies in maps…
About the Author
Peng Shepherd was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, where she rode horses and trained in classical ballet, and has lived in Beijing, Kuala Lumpur, London, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York, and Las Vegas.
Her first novel, The Book of M, won the 2019 Neukom Institute for Literary Arts Award for Debut Speculative Fiction, and was chosen as a best book of the year by Amazon, Elle, Refinery29, and The Verge, as well as a best book of the summer by the Today Show and NPR On Point. A graduate of the NYU MFA program, Peng is the recipient of a 2020 fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the Elizabeth George Foundation’s emerging writers 2016 grant.
It’s been awhile since I sat down with a 400 page novel and read it from cover to cover in one day. A loooong while. Books like The Cartographers, however, make it seem like the easiest thing to do in the world!
This story follows Nell, a struggling ex-scholar/cartographer who is trying to deal with her place in the world after her reputation was ruin. What makes it worse is that is was ruined by none other than her father, a legend in the cartographer world. Nell tries to not be bitter with her lot in life, but she hasn’t spoken with her father in seven years and she plans to keep it that way. That is until her father’s body is discovered in his office at the New York Public Library. Suddenly, Nell finds herself thrust back into the world of cartographer and on the trail of a secret that could turn deadly.
Wow. That’s literally the word that crept out of my mouth as soon as I got to the end of this story. What. A. Ride! This novel somehow managed to capture things I love from different genres and mash them all into this incredible story. It has the plot of a mystery, the pacing of a thriller, and the spark of the magical you can find in fantasy. I absolutely loved the combination and instantly want more! I was enraptured with this story from the end of the first chapter and simply could not put the book down.
Yesterday was a rare day off for me. I had all these grand plans of tasks I needed to get done. I did absolutely none of them. That’s how good this book was!
Now, if you’ve been around the blog for any amount of time, you know my favorite thing about a book is well-written characters. This story has them in spades! Nell is fascinating to watch as she navigates the mystery surrounding her father’s death. Did she frustrate the @#$! out of me at times? Absolutely! But that happens a lot when I’m reading a mystery/thriller. I have the benefit of, ya know, not having my life directly threatened, so I can think much clearer 😂 So while Nell was mildly frustrating, I also understood why she was doing what she was doing. She reacted to the situation in a very real and human way and I loved that about her. I love characters that feel like you could actually meet them in real life. And though Nell was the central character, everyone else in this story shined, as well. I was so wrapped up in their lives and their tale that I may have gotten misty-eyed a couple of times. That’s always a good sign!
As much as I adored the character work, I think my favorite part of this novel, which goes against my norm, is the plot. I was enthralled with everything that was happening! That is the reason I finished this book in one day… I had to know what happened next! And when the more fantastical element crept in? *chef’s kiss* I was not expecting it, but I loved it! Not only was the plot fascinating, but the writing definitely sucked me in. There is something about Peng Shepherd’s writing that is so incredibly readable. I had no issue getting into the story and, by the end, I already knew I was going to read everything she had ever written. Which is, for now, just The Book of M and a short story called The Future Library, but I’m so excited to devour those, as well!
Final thoughts: This was a beautifully written, perfectly paced, and wonderful ride from beginning to end! I was captivated by everything about this novel, from the compelling characters to the unique storyline. The fact that this is a mystery wrapped in a thriller wrapped in a fantasy just made it that much better. If you enjoy a dark mystery with complex characters and a touch of the fantastic, I think you would enjoy The Cartographers!