Miranda and Caliban – By Jacqueline Carey – Book Review

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

A lovely girl grows up in isolation where her father, a powerful magus, has spirited them to in order to keep them safe.

We all know the tale of Prospero’s quest for revenge, but what of Miranda? Or Caliban, the so-called savage Prospero chained to his will?

In this incredible retelling of the fantastical tale, Jacqueline Carey shows readers the other side of the coin—the dutiful and tenderhearted Miranda, who loves her father but is terribly lonely. And Caliban, the strange and feral boy Prospero has bewitched to serve him. The two find solace and companionship in each other as Prospero weaves his magic and dreams of revenge.

Always under Prospero’s jealous eye, Miranda and Caliban battle the dark, unknowable forces that bind them to the island even as the pangs of adolescence create a new awareness of each other and their doomed relationship.

Miranda and Caliban is bestselling fantasy author Jacqueline Carey’s gorgeous retelling of The Tempest. With hypnotic prose and a wild imagination, Carey explores the themes of twisted love and unchecked power that lie at the heart of Shakespeare’s masterpiece, while serving up a fresh take on the play’s iconic characters.

Jacqueline Carey is one of those authors that I absolutely adore. When she writes a book, I buy it, no questions asked. She has never disappointed with her novels and she continues to live up to the pedestal I have placed her on in my mind.

I, personally, have never read The Tempest, the Shakespeare play this novel is based on, but I don’t think it’s necessary to have done so before reading this book. I did look up a summary of the The Tempest so I had some idea of what to expect. A part of me wishes I hadn’t because it gave away much of the story.

Anyway, this novel begins when Miranda is only 6 years old. She has been living on the isle with her father and several elementals that act as servants to her father. Except for a random wild boy that sometimes leaves gifts for her, there is on one else on the isle. When Miranda’s father summons the wild boy and essentials binds him into servitude, the plot truly begins.

Caliban, the wild boy, has lived alone on the isle since the death of his mother. He is unable to speak until Miranda begins teaching him. For the first time, Miranda has a friend and companion to spend her days with. As they grow up together, it is only natural for them to form a strong bond.

Jacqueline Carey captures the essence of a Shakespeare play without actually using the same type of language his plays were written in.

I loved Miranda and felt a great deal of compassion for her as she grows up knowing only obedience to her father, who is quick to punish any kind of disobedience with physical pain. She is little more than a pawn in her father’s plans with no real choice in what her life will become.

Caliban is also an interesting character. Seeing through his eyes as he learns how to speak and comprehend and more and more is amazing. Prospero, Miranda’s father, I feel, is the true villain of the story even if Caliban is made out to be so at certain times. If someone bound you against your will, forced you to do all the chores and punished you for the slightest infraction, you’d probably want to kill them too.

I particularly felt for Miranda when she got her first period. She had absolutely no prior knowledge of what to expect and of course was alarmed when she suddenly started bleeding. Even thinking that she was somehow bleeding internally. It was a very stark contrast to the current time when girls are educated about puberty and what to expect to happen to their bodies. I try to imagine not knowing that such a thing was perfectly normal and then have it happen. It would be a terrifying experience to say the least. The description of Miranda’s confusion and symptoms were so very apt.

The ending felt a little vague, perhaps leaving it open for a sequel. I would love to read one if one was ever written. It was also rather bleak, as you don’t know what might come next. My imagination could certainly fill in a few dark happenings afterwards.

Overall, I really enjoyed this novel and give it a rating of 4 out of 5 stars. I would recommend it to anyone who likes Shakespeare retellings, fantasy novels, and well, anyone who just loves good books.

Have you read Miranda and Caliban? Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!