Book Review: The Cartographers, Peng Shepherd

Book Review: The Cartographers, Peng Shepherd


The Cartographers, Peng Shepherd

Fantasy: The Cartographers, Peng Shepherd


Part of the magic of a good book is the partnership between the author and the reader. That collaboration between art, artist, and recipient is why reviews of any art can be so wildly different. The way a book speaks to you may not be the message it gives to me. The connection with my life could have no correspondence in your own.


Nell Young was a rising star in the cartography world. The daughter of two eminent scholars in the field, with a newly minted Ph.D., she and her boyfriend, also a cartographer, had started working for the NY Public Library. The cool one in Manhattan with the famous lions. Another lion prowled the cartography section: her father. That Dr. Young was formidable, irascible, intractable. Perhaps it was inevitable that this strong-willed pair, father and daughter, would have a conflict. But a conflict so severe that he demanded his own daughter be fired, immediately, or he and his reputation would leave? That seemed impossible, until it happened.


Nell found a job with a company that made artistic maps, replicas of older and more famous maps, but altered to look old and provide customers with interesting conversation pieces. It was a far cry from what she thought she would be doing, but it paid bills and let her stay in Manhattan.


Then, her father died.


Nell begins an adventure in search of many things. Closure with the father she had not spoken with in seven years. Peace with the boyfriend who left her the day she–and he–were fired from the library. And most of all, answers to what really happened on that day in the library. The conflict was not over some classical, rare, or valuable map. It was over a cheap fold-up map from 1930, one that was often given away in gas stations. A map of upstate New York, a map that showed the area in great detail. In fact, more detail than even then residents of the area knew.


A map that could lead to her death at the hands of The Cartographers.


The Cartographers is a fantasy, but so much more. Peng Shepherd takes us on the adventure that awaits Nell and the unlikely people she finds, people who knew her parents when they were young and in love, joyful and driven, capable of conquering the world. Nell finds many of the answers she was seeking, but also finds oh so much more. The plot is incredible, the people are wonderful, the writing is spectacular, and there is extraordinary power in being able to see the world in a new way.


A map could help with that, but more important is an open mind.


The Cartographers, Peng Shepherd

Book Review: The Cartographers, Peng Shepherd

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