The Cartographers by Peng Shepherd

Book: The Cartographers   

Author: Peng Shepherd

Genre: Mystery; Conspiracy  

Publisher: William Morrow Books

Publication Date: March 15, 2022

Format: hardcover book

Length: 400 pages

Seven years ago, Nell Young was on her way to getting everything she’d ever wanted: a full-time job in the map division of the New York Public Library, a husband who shared her love of maps, and the respect of her father. All those dreams fell apart when Nell discovered a box marked “Junk” and an old gas station map.

Blacklisted from the academic map community by her own father and abandoned by the man she loved, Nell has spent seven years creating historically inaccurate maps for casual enthusiasts. It’s killing her soul. Then she gets a phone call from an old friend: her father is dead. When she visits his office at the NYPL, Nell discovers something hidden in a secret compartment: the old gas station map that ruined her life. Determined to figure out what on earth is so special about this cheap, out-of-date map, Nell decides to dig deeper. It isn’t long before she attracts the attention of some very dangerous people.

I don’t think I’ve ever read a book quite like this before. It’s sort of an academic thriller/conspiracy that’s also retrospective and nostalgic with a dash of whimsy thrown in. The idea at the heart of the conspiracy was fascinating and gave me several questions to ponder.

P.S. I really like the original idea for the Dreamer’s Atlas where modern locations are mapped like fantasy lands and fantasy lands are mapped using modern cartography styles. Does anything like that exist in real life?

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