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
The gripping story plotted out in The Cartographers is the latest product of Peng Shepherd’s creative imagination, providing readers with many tantalizing twists and surprises along the way as she explores the intersection between science and art, mathematics and magic ... Shepherd’s latest novel is sometimes dark, describing mystical happenings that science cannot explain.
The Cartographers is a strong and original addition to the dark academia sub-genre, which spans fantasy, gothic literature, horror, thrillers, and speculative fiction ... The Cartographers teems with delicious dark academia standbys ... The book’s pacing is strong, even as Shepherd deals with two different narrative timelines with an ensemble cast of characters. I genuinely did not want to put it down, even if the ending got a bit tangled up in itself, then inexplicably segues into wrapping up a little too neatly. However, the entire premise is bit of a Gordian knot and the book is so entertaining, engaging, and at times chilling, even when the plot veers toward the ridiculous, so a slightly weak ending can absolutely be forgiven ... Shepherd’s strength lives in the foundational concept of her magical world making, which is that maps, old and new, shape the landscapes in the world and also our understanding of the all realities.
The Cartographers is, at its heart, about three things: family, found and otherwise; how much of one’s life can be built and balanced on a single lie; and the transformative nature of cartography. Its examination of this last aspect is what takes the book from an enjoyable, fast-paced (and fantastical) thriller to something you want to put down and think about before rereading it — snarling viciously at anyone who tries to pick it up before you can get that second pass. It’s brilliant ... One of the triumphs of The Cartographers is the exploration of what it means to make a map ... explores these questions with deep, vivid intensity; it will make you think twice about the power of paper maps, especially in a world where they’ve been supplanted by electronic devices ... Shepherd nails the sense of deep-seated, profound connection and love between a small group of people drawn together by shared experience and interest, creating an intense familial bond ... both beautiful and intellectual, and Shepherd sticks the landing in a deeply satisfying fashion.