The Cartographers – Peng Shepherd

Published By: Orion
Pages: 400
Released On: 17/03/2022

What is the purpose of a map?

Nell Young’s whole life and greatest passion is cartography. Her father, Dr. Daniel Young, is a legend in the field, and Nell’s personal hero. But she hasn’t seen or spoken to him ever since he cruelly fired her snd destroyed her reputation after an argument over an old, cheap gas station highway map.

But when Dr. Young is found dead in his office at the New York Public Library, with the very same seemingly worthless map hidden in his desk, Nell can’t resist investigating. To her surprise, she soon discovers that the map is incredibly valuable, and also exceedingly rare. In fact, she may now have the only copy left in existence – because a mysterious collector has been hunting down and destroying every last one – along with anyone who gets in the way.

But why?

To answer that question, Nell embarks on a dangerous journey to reveal a dark family secret, and discover the true power that lies in maps.


Thanks to Orion for the advanced copy of this title in return for an honest review.

Is it possible to fall in love with a book? To find your soulmate in its words? This is what this book means to me. I’d read about 4% of it before I’d realised it could fight for the title of my favourite book I’ve ever read, and that opinion didn’t stop by the time I’d finished.

Who knew maps could be so glamorous or thrilling. I have next to no knowledge of maps – much like the next person – but this book really makes them seem like a fast world to be in. Physical maps may be surplus these days to sat-navs and the like, but this book has shown me the appeal.

It’s tantalising, full of secrets and red herrings, passionate and thrilling, full of magic, love, friendship, grief , families, lies, truth and trust, and above all, hope.

You finally get to grips with it, you’re comfortable in what is going on, and then Peng flips it all on its head and you’re back to square one. Is anyone or anything exactly what you think they are? It’s multi-layered, expertly planned and written by Peng Shepherd. I can’t even begin to think about how difficult it would have been to keep on top of the story’s threads.

It feels absurd that this is partially based on a true story, but it is. I only found that out after I’d finished reading it, but it instantly gave it a new light. There’s a magic to this book and in turn, a magic to maps I never thought of before.

I might have been given an advanced e-copy of this book, but as soon as I can, I will be buying a physical copy of it and insisting everyone I come into contact with gets a copy too.

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