Miranda and Caliban by Jacqueline Carey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I learned before going into this book, it is a re-imagined telling of The Tempest by Shakespeare. I have not read it, but I have very vague knowledge of the general story. I chose not to research it further before reading either so I could go into it without any expectations.
I actually really enjoyed reading a moderately slow paced fantasy. The entire story is told from the perspective of children/young adults. I enjoyed the simplicity of that while at the same time seeing how complex the world seemed to them despite the fact that the world to them was nothing more than their small island. The characters were well written and I found myself really caring for them. Caliban especially was an interesting character. I loved feeling like we were learning with him as his chapters began taking on more complex thought.
The love story aspect was heartbreaking and innocent. I really felt the emotional connection between them and the ambiguous ending was thought provoking.
Overall I highly recommend this story. It’s not exciting or adventurous in a large scale sense by any means but is very heartfelt.
Full Review with Spoilers
I am a huge fan of Jacqueline Carey’s work. This particular book of hers stands out as very different from the rest. It is a much slower paced fantasy and comes off as more of a slice of life in a sense.
I was aware before I started reading this book that is a retelling of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. I have never actually read the source material so I can’t comment on the similarities or what sort of liberties were taken for this book.
The entire book is told from two perspectives, Miranda And Caliban. The story follows them as the grow from children to young adults. Caliban is a “savage” living on the island while Miranda and her father are exiled to the island. I found it very interesting to see the world through their eyes. Caliban’s chapters start very short and extremely broken. As Miranda teaches him language his chapters become more complex and we see that he is able to articulate his feelings for both Miranda and the situations happening around them in general. I loved seeing the development of these children into young adults. The both of them also start developing feelings for each other much to the dismay of Miranda’s father who has been using Caliban as a slave/servant the entire time through magical means. Caliban is considered hideous by her fathers standards and Miranda’s innocence and virginity are required for his long living plan of revenge on those who exiled them.
It was also very heartbreaking to experience Caliban dealing with his growing affection and attraction alone and ignorant to what it means, having no living family on the island with him to help him. The affections developing between them was incredibly sweet. I was genuinely upset when Miranda’s father’s plan works and they get off the island, leaving Caliban behind. I also found myself enjoying the ambiguous ending. Miranda makes a promise to come back to Caliban but we never see the result. (I still at the time of writing this have not read The Tempest and chose not to look up the details. I’d like to read it more or less unspoiled, even if I have a general idea of how the story goes.)
This was a sweet, simple story. There wasn’t intense amounts of action or suspense and the love story that blooms throughout the story stays tame the whole way through. I loved everything about this slice of life, magic, coming of age story.