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Miranda and Caliban by Jacqueline Carey. Book Review

February 17, 2017


On an isolated island Miranda grows up in the safety her father Prospero has provided for her. But it is not an easy life. Her father’s obsessive pursuit of magic only serves to isolate Miranda further. Then, after the bewitching of a strange, feral boy, Caliban, Miranda’s life may be about to experience the warmth of emotional closeness she could only dream about. But under her father’s constant attention it is a relationship which can only be doomed.

Miranda and Caliban is a slow burn novel. The writing is carefully considered and increasingly hypnotic the further you get into it. In its own right it is an absorbing read for any young adult reader with a literary frame of mind.

Miranda and Caliban does not provide any surprises as it pulls out all the elements of The Tempest and crafts a narrative of what happened before the play begins. But Shakespeare, with his otherworldly way of phrasing, use of words and dense concepts can be a difficult literary meal to digest for anyone embedded in the culture of the twenty-first century. Miranda and Caliban illuminates and add substance to the back story of the Tempest which should help an audience or reader to appreciate it in a way they might not have before; making it a useful addition to any English class striving to get to grips with the Tempest.

You can easily visualise Miranda’s bleak life of self-sufficiency which needs to pay constant attention to the livestock and food sources, as well as the drudge of keeping the household together. Caliban’s lot is not any better. He leads a monochrome life of suffering, as he tries to work out what will please or displease the man who has captured him and is slowly domesticating him, as well as where he stand with Miranda.

But creating such a sense of place with Miranda and Caliban, Jacqueline Carey has thrown a lifeline to students working their way through the relentless stream of Shakespearean iambic pentameter ensuring that the Tempest will come to life before their eyes, so they will begin to sense the strength of emotion within it.

It is an intimate and intense retelling of the Tempest which can be read for enjoyment and one which should prove an invaluable asset to young people struggling to get to grips with the demands of a classic play.

Miranda and Caliban was courtesy of Tor Books via NetGalley

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