Genre: Fantasy, Retelling
Miranda is a lonely child. For as long as she can remember, she and her father have lived in isolation in the abandoned Moorish palace. There are chickens and goats, and a terrible wailing spirit trapped in a pine tree, but the elusive wild boy who spies on her from the crumbling walls and leaves gifts on their doorstep is the isle’s only other human inhabitant. There are other memories, too: vague, dream-like memories of another time and another place. There are questions that Miranda dare not ask her stern and controlling father, who guards his secrets with zealous care: Who am I? Where did I come from? The wild boy Caliban is a lonely child, too; an orphan left to fend for himself at an early age, all language lost to him. When Caliban is summoned and bound into captivity by Miranda’s father as part of a grand experiment, he rages against his confinement; and yet he hungers for kindness and love.
Jacqueline Carey is an author I’ve not read anything from before and I only wanted to read this book as I was intrigued by the summary and Danya mentioned it an age ago on her blog. As such, when I requested it on NetGalley I was going in blind and I think I’m glad of that fact. I had no preconceptions going in so was surprised with the story I got.
The premise of the book is that it’s a retelling of The Tempest and takes place before The Tempest and in the run up to Prospero’s grand revenge scheme. It was all very slow paced as the story is told from Miranda and Caliban’s point of view. Miranda is just a small child when the book begins, a lonely child who wants a friend and has glimpses of memories of a time before the island that mean little to her. She is lonely and innocent and so utterly naïve. Then there is Caliban who has grown practically wild following the death of his mother. His POV was the most interesting to read as he had a completely different perspective to Miranda. He doesn’t blindly trust Prospero but instead suffers him as a saviour and his master He was lonely on the island and views Miranda as his only friend. Initially it was simplistic narrative as he was taught to speak the same language as Miranda and Prospero and as time passes his POV was heart-breaking reading his plight.
I wasn’t too familiar with The Tempest beforehand but that didn’t affect my enjoyment. I had a quick flick through the play a week before I began reading so I was familiar with the story and then I dove into this. I have to say first of all I spent so much of this book angry, not because I didn’t enjoy the book but because the manipulation of Prospero over his daughter, Miranda, and Caliban was obvious to me. I had strongly disliked Prospero in the play but in the book he was even worse.
The reason I rated the book as I did is twofold. I mean, I adored the way the book was written and the characterisation was spot on. I find it hard to find fault with the book. I think my issue was I was hoping for a different ending. I didn’t enjoy the way The Tempest developed and thus I didn’t enjoy how this went. It doesn’t keep strictly to the play but it does have a certain path which must be followed and I hated every page of that. Also, the book took a long while to grow and develop. It wasn’t for a while that I learnt what path this book would take. There were many years before the events of The Tempest in the book and the time filled before the big even were slow. It wasn’t until I’d finished I’d realised this book was less a retelling and more of a character study of both Miranda and Prospero giving them the chance to be fully developed characters unlike in The Tempest. You got the backstory and explanation and I appreciated that.
Basically, this book created Miranda and Caliban as fully evolved characters which they never felt like to me in The Tempest. It did them justice and made me love and hate them and simply feel for them. This was a book which made me hate Prospero more than I already did and left me thinking on it long after I finished. I would recommend it but prepare yourself for it as well. It is not a fast paced novel it is a long character study and it is utterly charming in that fact.
Have you ever read a book where you were utterly charmed by the characters and hated every moment of the story they were trapped in? And have you read any Jacqueline Carey books which you want to recommend?