Miranda and Caliban

With Miranda and Caliban, Jacqueline Carey (the Kushiel's Legacy series) offers an ambitious take on Shakespeare's The Tempest. Both a reinterpretation of and a prologue to the play, Miranda and Caliban cleverly expands on a story at which Shakespeare hints. The novel first follows Miranda and her father, Prospero, as they lead a lonely life on a seemingly uninhabited island. Prospero is an odd cross between sorcerer and rigidly devout Christian, drawing on mysterious planetary influences to perform spells and bind spirits to his will. Carey's grounding in fantasy comes in handy depicting the various spirits, including earth elementals that "till the gardens with their spade-like hands" and water elementals that cavort in the fountains.

Miranda's loneliness is eased after her father summons Caliban, a wild boy who Prospero believes might be descended from a witch, in order to study his bestial features and employ him as a servant. Before long, Miranda and Caliban form an emotional connection that, despite Prospero's fierce commands, develops toward a romance. Their bond is both tested and strengthened by her father's tyrannical influence, with his character becoming more and more frightening as Miranda and Caliban start to uncover his dark schemes. Readers without any knowledge of The Tempest will have no trouble being sucked into Carey's remixed Shakespearian world, but those familiar with the play will be surprised and moved by the lyrical, often melancholic light Carey casts on some of its most famous scenes. --Hank Stephenson, bookseller, Flyleaf Books

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