Miranda and Caliban by Jacqueline Carey
Papa seeks vengeance on those who betrayed him, and I … I am nothing more than bait in his snare.
This Tempest retelling is imaginative and unique, portraying the perspectives of Miranda and Caliban, and will make you rethink the play you may have read in school. It is a fabulous story for fans and those who have never read the play alike! Focusing on their perspective, the plot of The Tempest is slowly revealed in an expertly devised way. The world building is great, but the characters are what makes this story so unique.
Mayhap it is born of the many unanswered questions I have swallowed.
Caliban’s character is by far my favorite, and the one that made me the most emotional. His learning of language is fascinating and his implicit trust and love for Miranda is touching. At the heart of this novel, is a coming of age story for both protagonists, which can be a challenge. However, it is well written and I was rooting for both of them! While I could definitely empathize with Miranda, I also wanted her to do more, to be more curious, and rebellious. I never really rooted for her or Prospero when I read the play in high school, and this retelling picks up right where I left off. The depths of my feelings for Caliban were intensified and complicated by this story.
But Master is not a word in the same way as servant because it is his name…but there is magic in words. there is magic in knowing. and i did not know the meaning of this word, Master. Now I do. The itch grows stronger. I am angry.
What saddened me, was how we learn the notion of shame and the subjective nature of our ‘badness’. This is not unique to Carey’s retelling, it is also in the original, but her choice of language and perspective highlight it in a way that is not present in the original. In fact, while I knew what was going to happen, I enjoyed it better this way. There is always the same anxiety, when you know the ending, and speculate how the plot will play out, but it made it more dramatic. I also want to quickly mention that the ending broke my heart.
Together, we become student and teacher alike as we learn and relearn the art of speech.
Miranda and Caliban are entangled in a game that is far from under their control, and their struggles for agency and knowledge is emotional. The measure of a truly great retelling is when it changes your opinions and views of the original. I have to say that this story definitely does that for me. If you have ever read The Tempest, or are curious about the story, or enjoy underdog characters and are especially interested in the Caliban figure, please read this story! You can buy it here.
Disclaimer: I received this book in exchange for an honest review from Netgalley
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If you like Shakespeare retellings, try reading this one of The Taming of the Shrew.