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Miranda and Caliban

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Miranda is a lonely child. For as long as she can remember, she and her father have lived in isolation in the abandoned Moorish palace. There are chickens and goats, and a terrible wailing spirit trapped in a pine tree, but the elusive wild boy who spies on her from the crumbling walls and leaves gifts on their doorstep is the isle’s only other human inhabitant. There are other memories, too: vague, dream-like memories of another time and another place. There are questions that Miranda dare not ask her stern and controlling father, who guards his secrets with zealous care: Who am I? Where did I come from?

The wild boy Caliban is a lonely child, too; an orphan left to fend for himself at an early age, all language lost to him. When Caliban is summoned and bound into captivity by Miranda’s father as part of a grand experiment, he rages against his confinement; and yet he hungers for kindness and love.

336 pages, Kindle Edition

First published February 14, 2017

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About the author

Jacqueline Carey

71 books7,870 followers
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Jacqueline Carey (born 1964 in Highland Park, Illinois) is an author and novelist, primarily of fantasy fiction.

She attended Lake Forest College, receiving B.A.'s in psychology and English literature. During college, she spent 6 months working in a bookstore as part of a work exchange program. While there, she decided to write professionally. After returning she started her writing career while working at the art center of a local college. After ten years, she discovered success with the publication of her first book in 2001.

Currently, Carey lives in western Michigan and is a member of the oldest Mardi Gras krewe in the state.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 409 reviews
Profile Image for Navessa.
Author 11 books7,525 followers
April 15, 2018
"...there are stories written in the gathering of the stars..."

Wow. I honestly don't even know how to begin reviewing this book. Please bear with me while I try to find some way to do it justice.

I suppose I should begin at the beginning? This is a retelling of Shakespeare's The Tempest, in which a magus named Prospero and his infant daughter Miranda are betrayed and set adrift on a boat that is far from seaworthy. Thanks to his magic, they make it to what, at first, appears to be an abandoned island.

But there is magic on this isle, and Prospero isn't the first of his kind to be a castaway there. Before him there was the evil witch Sycorax. Prospero follows in her footsteps by quickly enslaving the many sprites that flit over the fields and swim in the rivers. And soon, he discovers, Sycorax left a child behind after she perished.

This child is Caliban. In the original story, he is described as the son of Sycorax and a devil, subhuman, monstrous. He remains so in this retelling. And yet, he is the only friend that Miranda has ever had. And he is kind and generous where her father is cold and distant. To her, he isn't monstrous; he's beautiful.

The story is very much a character study. It begins just before Prospero captures and enslaves Caliban. Miranda is six years old. She is innocent, sheltered, and naive. Caliban, for his part, has been left alone on the island after his mother's death. He has forgotten how to live indoors, he has forgotten his language, and he's spent so much time scrabbling over the rocks of the island that he stands stooped, his knuckles dragging on the ground.

Prospero quickly becomes impatient with his lack of progress, declaring him a useless, stupid savage. Miranda takes up the task of civilizing and educating him, and slowly, he begins to grow. Both Miranda and Caliban serve as narrators, and it was incredible to see his chapters go from stunted sentences like:

"Yes. No. Food. Water. Eat food. Drink water. Please. Yes, eat food, please."


"So I leave flowers; spring flowers, then summer flowers. I gather the red and orange and yellow trumpet flowers, for a trumpet is a thing that makes a loud noise like a shout, and I tie their vines together and leave them to shout I love you in a row from Miranda's window ledge."

As they age, they become more aware. Not just of themselves, but of Prospero. He is, without a doubt, one of the easiest characters to hate that I have ever read. My notes are filed with line after line lambasting him. His character is especially enraging because of the innocence of Miranda and Caliban. He is the only other human they know, the only point of authority in their lives, and so they have no gauge for his cruelty. Which he greatly abuses.

Both Miranda and Caliban suffer from Stockholm syndrome throughout this book, though, towards the end, as they mature into adults, both begin to rebel. One succeeds. The other...does not.

A thing to note here is that this is not a romance. This is very much a tragedy. My advice: save it for when you're ready to cry. Hard. Carey spends most of this story crafting these characters and their love in such a way as to do the most damage possible to a reader's heart. It's as if her singular goal with this story is to break us.

With me, at least, she succeeded.

This is a staggeringly well-researched, poignant, beautiful, savage retelling. I cannot recommend it enough for fans of the Bard, or even for those wholly unfamiliar with Shakespeare, because, to me, this is a much more compelling read than the original.

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Profile Image for Jaidee.
583 reviews1,120 followers
November 9, 2022
2.5 "sigh , sigh again, rather lovely but too twee" stars !!

I went into this book with high expectations. This was written by Jacqueline Carey, a writer of immense talent in the dark fantasy realm. I have read the first two in Phedre's trilogy and was blown away by the world building, the deep and intricate characterizations and the vivid landscapes of that world as well as the dark eroticism of many of the scenes. I rated those two books 4.5 stars and look forward to finishing that trilogy and moving on to other of Ms. Carey's series.

This book is a retelling of the Tempest but from the perspective's of Miranda and Caliban. I was deeply hoping for something intricate, complex and exciting. Rather, this was kind of lovely at times, very simplistic, repetitive and way too twee !! Miranda as a child was way too mature to be believable and Caliban's chapters give no insight into his complexity except that he yearns for Miranda and masturbates excessively. Ariel, the sprite, also had potential but was too busy being overly fruity and saying "o la" like a transvestite fairy rather than a powerful and playful sprite !! Prospero was the most interesting character written about but again this was not be his story but Miranda's and Caliban's narratives. There was also too much dependence on magical systems to keep the story moving and at times, well often really, I was exasperated and a bit bored.

I did like the description of the elementals as well as the mixture of pagan and Christian symbolism.

Overall, I felt that this was a wasted opportunity sort of the way I felt about Jo Nesbo's Macbeth.

Ms. Carey you are an immensely talented writer and yes I did expect much more from this novel !

Profile Image for Sam.
142 reviews322 followers
February 7, 2017
"Thou art the shoals on which Caliban wilt dash his heart to pieces."

Though I'm always skeptical of retellings, I usually end up reading them. Perhaps some of Prospero's magic rubs off whenever The Tempest is invoked, as I loved Margaret Atwood's Hag-Seed and now have had a great experience reading Miranda and Caliban. Covering Miranda and Caliban's childhood on the island, expanding the relationships between the two of them and Prospero, and bringing us right to the titular tempest, Jacqueline Carey does a wonderful job imbuing her tale with magic and beauty, darkness and danger, echoing the dramatic nature of Shakespeare's original. Her Miranda is innocent, tender, loving, but grows wise over time, penetrating the plans of Prospero in ways we do not see in the play. And it is her Caliban on which success really rides: subverting the noble savage and dark, ugly villain tropes of the original and also delivering him from true bondage, Caliban is certainly confused and has shame about his origins and his baser impulses, but his ideas and actions are of a fully formed man with a great capacity for faithfulness and devotion and gentleness, and his worst treachery is seen as no different on the human continuum than the greedy, vengeance-driven motives of either Prospero or his brother and the king of Naples who had previously usurped the crown.

"Ah, but now that thou knowest there is more to dream, thou wilt dare to dream it," Ariel says softly, as softly as the wind. "Thou shouldst not, for there is only pain in it for thee."

The love story between Miranda and Caliban begins innocently as children, and becomes complicated as each grows into adulthood and understands their respective places in the world and the futures in store for them, those both fated and fixed by Prospero. Caliban's love for Miranda (and hers for his) is both pure and passionate therefore, rooted in years of tender friendship but made urgent and impossible by a physical and soulful longing for the other. Both are at the whims and under the thumb of Prospero, pained by his magic and his cruelty for disobedience or disappointment, and as they grow up they take pleasure in each other's company and somewhat shared status in his household, though Miranda is his innocent daughter and Caliban learns to his chagrin he is thought of as a servant though he was free when he came to them and truly only serves Miranda in friendship and love. Miranda teaches Caliban to speak when they first find him; he repays this kindness when she has been stricken by her father and must learn again her own memories and knowledge. Ariel's role is both a uniter and a divider of the couple: he empowers each with information and understanding of themselves and their situations, but also warns them, an audience stand in or one man Greek chorus, of the pain and impossibility of this connection, and his binding to Prospero means he is compelled to disrupt their union as much as he chafes at his bondage and in some ways helps the two together. In Carey's hands, the island backstory of The Tempest is of star-crossed lovers worthy of Shakespeare, whose romance is doomed for a world not prepared for two disparate beings to be together, for a father with an iron grip on the outcomes and fates of others and unwilling to relinquish his plans for his daughter's freedom or happiness to her, and men who would set themselves above other men by virtue of their birth or bearing or belief in God or gods.

"'Tis the fine edge of a blade that divides innocence from ignorance, and methinks it a blade that will turn in thy hand and cut you one day."

The themes are varied and interesting here: the power and magic of words and of names, freedom and servitude both forced and unwilling and otherwise, the line between innocence and ignorance, the power and strength of woman. But all appear and exist in service to the larger plot, so Carey is thought provoking without being preachy or heavy handed. Carey draws her characters well, their Shakespearean characteristics and qualities as a strong base layer, but Carey breathes her own life into them as well: Caliban's constancy and elevation of his most positive aspects over the limited villainy he's allotted in the play, the deepening of Ariel's darker side and his role as informer and informant for the three humans of the island. Miranda asks rhetorically of Caliban, "If a person does good in the name of bad all unwitting, surely God in his greatness must understand and forgive it?" And indeed we weigh Caliban's and Prospero's actions from this angle and as well from the other: to what is forgiven or borne by those who do bad in the name of good? Caliban's villainy from Carey's perspective is easier to understand, though we (and Miranda) cannot excuse it: by Prospero he has been enslaved, made to think himself low and unworthy, been violently assaulted, had his life threatened, and ultimately has arranged for the one good of Caliban's life to be forever lost to him. But Prospero "sees the entire world as a game-board, and all of us lesser beings merely pieces upon it" and his manipulation of the life of his daughter and callous enslavement of Caliban, Ariel, and the various sprites of the island in service to a plan of both vengeance and justice (it rests on a knifes edge as to which way it will tip), we do not see Prospero as maintaining the moral high ground versus Caliban and the playing field under Carey has been leveled, even if the outcome retains its imbalance.

Carey gives us some beautiful descriptions of an enchanted but also hard island upbringing, colorful and warm and emotional, from scenes in which Miranda learns not to love her animals too dearly to her encountering of paint colors in Prospero's sanctum. The writing is clear and clean prose with an air common to works of historical fiction that also fit into contemporary tone: only Ariel retains his Shakespearean way of speaking, the rest is written in a style and voice befitting Miranda as a mostly educated young woman and an illiterate but learned Caliban whose formal education was late and incomplete but reads well and plainly into the happenings of others and his own heart. With above all strong characterization and a believable and affecting story of doomed love, Jacqueline Carey's Miranda and Caliban is a very worthy retelling and reinvention and subversion of the original Shakespeare. And to have a heart break and feel pity but also pride for Shakespeare's villain, now fully fleshed into a complicated creature but a true, devoted lover of Miranda is no small feat. A definite recommended read from me.

-received as an ARC on NetGalley thanks to Tor Books, in exchange for an honest review
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 6 books3,977 followers
February 7, 2017
Thanks to Netgalley for this ARC!

There's a lot going for this tale as long as you're a certain type of reader. You must love Shakespeare's Tempest, but even if you don't, you might still get a kick out of this retelling from the points of view of Miranda and Caliban switching back and forth from early childhood through the events of the play.

I would definitely recommend this for general fans of YA fiction, for one, because most of the novel if not the action revolves around childhood friends and the stresses of growing up under one hell of an absolute tyrant who never lets his wards even guess that he controls every aspect of their lives. Oh, Prospero.

It's fine for what it is, but if you're aware of the play, you know that this budding tale of thwarted romance between the dark boy and the rightful Duke of Milan's daughter, you also know that it is a tragedy.

The play is only a romance if you identify with certain characters.

This novel invites us to love Caliban, and his is definitely not a happy tale.

We're grown-up readers, right? We can handle a bit of disappointment at the end of a book, right? This isn't an Alternate retelling of the play. This is a straight-up retelling of the play with many added dimensions and depth, but the results are still the same.

For me? I appreciate what the book was trying to accomplish and I got a lot of out it on that level, but by the time I was invested in the tale, I was just cringing because of what I knew was going to happen.

I'm hedging on this one. I can appreciate the writing and the premise as far as that goes, but my own enjoyment was curtailed by the rest.

However, since this was the first book by the author that I've read and I've heard a lot of good things about her other works, it behooves me to pick them up and see if it was just the subject matter that was painful and not the writing. :)

Profile Image for Lauren (Shakespeare & Whisky).
256 reviews433 followers
April 26, 2017
I think I should have loved this and in all honesty I feel like a bit of pleb 2 starring it.

This is a re-invisioning of The Tempest and describes the doomed love story between Miranda, Prospero's daughter, and Caliban, the son of the witch Umm who inhabited the island prior to Miranda and her father's arrival.

“Should I not love you because your skin shines like polished wood in the sunlight?” Kneeling before him, I stroke his upper arms, feeling the corded muscles tense beneath my hands. “Should I not love you for the strength of these limbs that have saved my life this very day?” My heart quickening in my breast, I touch his averted face, stroke the hair from his brow. “Should I not love this face that is so dear to me? It is the first thing I saw when I emerged from a sleep like death. And your gaze … since we have been friends, your gaze has always been sweet toward me, has it not?” One by one, I touch the scattered moles on his face. “Should I not love you because you wear a constellation of stars upon your skin?”

However, I found the love story, especially on Miranda's side, curiously muted. I did feel for them. The abuse they suffered was terrible and their childlike inability to recognise it as such was horrendous. The innocent desire they felt for one another, and the shame Prospero made them feel regarding it made for engaging reading.

The writing could also be utterly stunning. I highlighted way too many sections of prose to include them in the review but whether it was little phrases such as, "worry gnaws at me like a maggot in an acorn" , or longer, evocative descriptions such as this:

"As I healed and we grew and learned together in those months, and indeed the years that followed, it seemed almost that we were two parts of a whole, each of us reflecting the other’s strengths and weaknesses. We were two souls who found each other in our times of need, providing companionship and solace. So long as the distance between us persists, there is an emptiness inside me."

The writing could be absolutely exquisite. Unfortunately, that same style was part of what made this hard to engage with at times. Consider this dialogue:

“The more fool thou if thou thinkest Prospero takes thee for aught but a villain,” Ariel says with the cutting knives in his voice. “Thou didst seek to defile his own daughter!”

It is too dense, too archaic. It wasn't consistent either, sometimes characters spoke with an almost modern vernacular but would then plunge into dialogue like the above. It was jarring and it felt like hard work to read.

Despite that, I think I could have enjoyed the novel anyway, and rated it very highly, if something actually happened.

"A wail of frustration rises to my throat and dies there. The thing is done, and I have done nothing to prevent it."

Caliban and Miranda are so passive! They do nothing in this whole novel. They are powerless and actionless. For me, it would have felt more tragic if I had seen them genuinely try to change the outcome and fail. Miranda spends 350 pages doing what her father tells her to and feeling bad about it. Her brief moments of defiance mean nothing because in the end she stands idly by and lets life happen to her.

I know people do this in real life, but I don't read fiction to explore the lives of people that do nothing and suffer for it. I had checked how many pages I had to go 4 or 5 times before I realised I was actually really bored for large stretches of the narrative.

I would still recommend to readers who are passionate about beautiful prose and if you haven't read anything by Jacqueline Carey I would strongly recommend you check out her original fantasy series Kushiel's Dart.

But, for me, Miranda and Caliban was a miss.
Profile Image for Mogsy (MMOGC).
2,034 reviews2,605 followers
February 13, 2017
4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2017/02/13/...

UPDATE: US/Can Giveaway for signed copy of Miranda and Caliban 2/13/17-2/23/17 https://bibliosanctum.com/2017/02/13/...

Few things get me more excited than a new book from Jacqueline Carey, and on the list of my must-read authors, her name definitely sits way up near the top. I also owe so much of my love for fantasy to amazing and talented woman. Her novel Kushiel’s Dart was among the handful of gateway books that first sparked my interest in the genre, and to this day I have not encountered anything else quite like it. But while Carey may have branched out into other areas like Young Adult and Urban Fantasy in recent years, I’ve continued to enjoy her work because I just love the way she writes, no matter what style or topic she decides to tackle. And with the growing trend in Shakespeare retellings these days, I suppose I wasn’t too surprised when I initially discovered that she was working on a retelling of The Tempest.

That project ultimately became Miranda and Caliban. As the book’s blurb states, many of us are already aware of how the original story goes, with Prospero and his quest for revenge against his usurping brother as well as the complicit king. But in her version of this classic tale, Carey has chosen instead to shine the light on Prospero’s gentle and kindhearted daughter Miranda, reimagining her in a coming-of-age romance with the other titular character Caliban, who was actually the monstrous antagonist of The Tempest. In this book, however, Caliban is the misunderstood feral boy who opens up to Miranda after being enslaved by her father, with the bond between them increasing in strength over the years as the two grow up together on the lonely island under Prospero’s overbearing tutelage.

Miranda and Caliban also presents a scenario to fill in what happened in the twelve years that Prospero and his daughter are stranded on the island after their exile. The book begins eight or so years before the great storm, when Miranda is just a six-year-old helping her father in a ritual to capture the wild boy they’ve seen lurking around the woods. After the boy is caught, Prospero attempts to civilize him by using harsh methods, but it is Miranda who succeeds in drawing him out of his shell by showing him kindness and compassion, convincing him to reveal that his name is Caliban. Seeing how his daughter has made such progress, Prospero decides to use the children’s friendship to his advantage, compelling Miranda to also ask Caliban about the spirit Ariel that the boy’s mother imprisoned in a tree.

Despite some of its close ties to the original play, you really don’t need to know a lot about The Tempest to enjoy this book. Case in point, I am in no way an expert on anything Shakespeare and yet I was still utterly enchanted by Miranda and Caliban. This is a love story, one that begins with the two eponymous characters meeting as children. With no knowledge or understanding into anything pertaining to the birds and the bees (Prospero may be a master sorcerer, but he was a complete failure of a sex ed teacher), awkward physical changes and confusing emotions eventually arise as both of them experience puberty and wind up falling in love.

But even if you’re not a big romance reader (and I don’t consider myself one either), there’s still plenty to appreciate about this tale. I found Carey’s portrayal of this world and its characters utterly fascinating, as well as the way she has flipped certain elements from The Tempest on its head. Caliban is of course a very sympathetic character here; his POV chapters show him gradually transforming from a wordless feral boy to a well-spoken young man, though he remains self-conscious about his physical appearance. Instead of being the protagonist you root for, Prospero is the menacing shadow that seems to hang over everything. Not that he was the nicest guy to begin with in the original play, but this story further plays up his use of magic to control everyone, including his own daughter, and exposes the hypocrisy of his faith and quest. At times Prospero’s love towards Miranda may seem genuine, but then his true colors will come out and the reader will despise him all over again. In this version, Ariel is also a villainous creature who constantly does things to thwart Miranda and Caliban’s relationship over the years, seeming to take much joy in making them both miserable. Still, it’s interesting to note that being able to arouse such powerful sentiments for even the most obnoxious of characters is one of Carey’s finest talents; you can’t help but connect with the people she writes about because she fleshes them out so well without having to resort to common tricks.

That said, Miranda and Caliban is very different from previous books I’ve read by the author. Much of it probably has to do with the constraints of this book being a Shakespeare retelling, which just goes to show what a versatile writer she is, though there’s also a part of me which feels immensely glad she wrote something like this. Carey’s last three novels were from her urban fantasy series Agent of Hel, and while I had a blast with those casual fun books, they certainly don’t exemplify just how spectacularly she can write. In that domain, they simply can’t compare to Miranda and Caliban, which perfectly showcases the gorgeous, lyrical prose that I love her for. I honestly believe that even if the story doesn’t appeal, one can still surely appreciate this book for the writing.

The Tempest fans will love this beautifully written and richly imagined retelling which approaches the story differently from an interesting and thought-provoking angle, but you also don’t need to be familiar with the original play to enjoy this book. After all, being able to appreciate ideas like the purity of love or the tumultuous emotions of growing up requires no prerequisites. Jacqueline Carey explores these themes and more in Miranda and Caliban, a poignant and heartbreaking novel that infuses a beloved Shakespearean classic with a welcome layer of depth, complexity, and feeling. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Puck.
648 reviews299 followers
April 5, 2017
“Thou art the shoals on which Caliban wilt dash his heart to pieces.”

And in return, this book was the shoals that dashed my own heart to pieces. Because reading.this.book.HURTS! It's beautiful and sweet and wonderfully written, but oh boy, this book broke my heart in the cruelest way.

"Miranda and Caliban" tells the tale of the bittersweet love-story between Miranda and Caliban, two young children who live on a desolate island with only Miranda’s father, some animals, and a few magical spirits as company.
Miranda’s father Prospero is a powerful wizard, and even though he genuinely loves his daughter, he has no problem manipulating the lives of Miranda, Caliban, and that of the spirit Ariel to achieve his goals. While all three struggle underneath Prospero’s thumb, the love between Miranda and Caliban grow stronger and more passionate as the two grow up.
As clouds gather on the horizon and tragedy draws near, the question raises that although love is a powerful thing, will it be enough to break Prospero’s spells?

“Later I shall wonder if there was a moment when Eve first ate of the apple and gained forbidden knowledge that she reckoned it worth the price.
Mayhap not.”

This book is a retelling of Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest”, but you don’t necessarily need to be familiar with the play to enjoy the story (however, knowing how the play ends makes this story 10x more painful). Carey’s book is also not the first retelling of this Shakespearean play: many of you might have heard about Margaret Atwood’s book Hag-Seed: The Tempest Retold that came out last year and is part of the “Hogarth Shakespeare Series”.
Jacqueline Carey’s book isn’t part of that official series, and while I think Atwood’s version is more accessible for non-Shakespeare fans since that story takes places in the present time, I do believe Carey’s retelling deserves a lot of praise as well.

Because this retelling is a very character-driven story, and Carey is a master at building up her characters. She uses the brief character-descriptions that Shakespeare gave us – vengeful wizard, naïve daughter, brute savage and neutral spirit – and she fleshes them out wonderfully. Miranda, Caliban, Prospero and even Ariel become human; they become admirable and flawed and moving.

Miranda is less a naïve woman than she’s in the play; she’s very much a kind and smart girl. It’s just that due to her lonely childhood and only having her dominant father and ‘savage’ Caliban to rely on, her view of the world and of people is very limited. She wants to fight for herself, but nobody ever taught her how.
Caliban is just as damaged by Prospero’s upbringing as Miranda, only he isn’t loyal to the wizard. He can see Prospero for who he really is, but since he’s conflicted about his own self-image, he finds it hard to fight for himself and Miranda.
Prospero is still the thwarted man and an authoritarian wizard as he is in the play, but here you also get to see him as a caring father to Miranda; how twisted his ideas of caring may be.
Ariel as a spirit remains as distant and otherworldly, although he’s not as neutral; he cares for Miranda and Caliban in his own strange way (they are all enslaved, after all), but he’s bound to obey Prospero. Ariel is never quite a friend, never truly an enemy.

���Oh milady”, Ariel’s eyes darken ominously once more, black and roiling like the sea at night. "'Tis the fine edge of a blade that divides innocence from ignorance, and methinks it a blade that will turn in thy hand and cut you one day."

So it’s not only love that plays an important role in this book; this book is also about justice and good VS. evil: what makes someone truly bad or good? At one point Miranda asks Ariel “If a person does good in the name of bad all unwitting, surely God in his greatness must understand and forgive him?” That question kind of goes for all the main characters in this play: nobody thinks he/she is a bad person, but still they end up causing others pain and misery. Love, no matter how true, can become a rather cruel weapon if it isn’t properly handled.

So this book definitely earned its 5 stars for me. Carey has succeeded in writing a beautiful, heart-breaking story about the doomed love between two characters that could rival Romeo and Juliet in its tragedy. Her characterization is top-notch and although her prose is a bit old-fashioned, her writing is clear and meaningful.
The ending broke my heart (although I knew it was coming), but it was the perfect way to end a charming book like this; sad, but a little hopeful too. I’m very happy that I read it and if tragic love-stories are your thing, Miranda and Caliban is perfect for you.

PS. Sam my friend, thank you for recommending this book to me: it broke my heart to pieces, but I loved every second of it :).
Profile Image for Juliet.
Author 92 books10.9k followers
January 16, 2020
This is as gorgeously written as all of Jacqueline Carey's books - the voice is wonderful. A fantastic interpretation of Shakespeare's The Tempest, with unforgettable characters. Warning, it's really sad!
Profile Image for Ellen Gail.
839 reviews377 followers
August 24, 2018
Later I shall wonder if there was a moment when Eve first ate of the apple and gained forbidden knowledge that she reckoned it worth the price.
Mayhap not.

4.5 stars!

I really feared this wouldn't live up to my SKY HIGH expectations. I mean, even for me my expectations were ridiculously high. Higher than Snoop Dogg high.

Coming from Jacqueline Carey, author of one of my all time favorite series, Kushiel's Universe, I expected greatness. But there was a nagging annoying part in my brain. What if I only like the one series? What if lightning didn't strike twice? I haven't read The Tempest, what if I don't get it?

I needn't have worried. This was some magical shit.

So I leave flowers; spring flowers, then summer flowers. I gather the red and orange and yellow trumpet flowers, for a trumpet is a thing that makes a loud noise like a shout, and I tie their vines together and leave them to shout I love you in a row from Miranda's window-ledge.

Miranda and Caliban is romantic, but it's not a romance in any normal categorical sense. This is a capital T tragedy. If you aren't melancholy and/or teary eyed when the last page arrives...well, I mean, you're still a human being with valid opinions, but damn. You must have a heart of steel and not even cry during that part during the Lion King.

The character development and the way the writing uses how the characters age and become more complex and aware has me in awe. It's just crazy beautiful and immersive to read.

Her characters are wonderful as usual too. There's a quiet complexity to Caliban that slowly boils over, and Miranda is a chess piece with a compassion and curiosity that's more dangerous than she knows. Prospero is a person I'd be happy to regift all of my current and future mosquito bites to, but even he has layers. Many of those layers are horrible, but he's a successfully built character nonetheless.

None of them connected with my soul the way my all time fave characters do, but they make for a fantastic read anyway.

If you haven't surmised from my disjointed rantings, I really liked this. It's a beautiful and striking retelling, dreamily written and gorgeously pouring off the page into my happy lil brain.

Miranda and Caliban was a primo reading experience.

Profile Image for Althea Ann.
2,232 reviews1,016 followers
August 9, 2017
It's been a Tempestuous season, with the release of Margaret Atwood's 'Hag-Seed' (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...), and then Carey's 'Miranda and Caliban.'
The authors' takes on Shakespeare's tale couldn't be more different, however. Where Atwood went for a humorous modern parallel, Carey's tale is earnest.

The main viewpoint is that of Prospero's young daughter, Miranda. Marooned on an island with her father, her life has been marked by isolation. She hasn't questioned her father's authority, or his agenda. But when the wizard captures the wild boy, Caliban, and imprisons him in their home as a kind of experiment, gradually the walls of everything Miranda has taken for granted will start to crumble.

The point of view shifts between the two young people, as they gradually get to know one another - and the emotions that one would expect to arise when you have two young humans alone together predictably develop. Unfortunately for young love, Prospero has other plans for Miranda. He certainly doesn't plan to see his daughter wed to someone he considers a savage when he has plans to use her as a tool; a critical part of his grand scheme for personal revenge. And it's hard to keep young love a secret when the unpredictable and resentful sprite Ariel is around.

It's not a bad book, and I liked its focus on humanizing Caliban. However, I'm less enthusiastic regarding de-emphasizing the wonderful political scheming and mad twists and turns of the original Tempest in favor of a gradual and drawn-out love story. That's simply a personal preference.

Many thanks to Tor and NetGalley for the opportunity to read.
Profile Image for Diana.
1,740 reviews223 followers
December 27, 2016
Wasn't expecting so many words piled upon themselves in such lenghty tirades which do nothing less than qualify much of the lenght of the text as nothing more than verborrea (pun intended)
RTC (if I don't forget :/) near the release date.
Profile Image for Danya.
486 reviews22 followers
February 14, 2017
This review and others can be found on my blog, Fine Print.

Jacqueline Carey’s MIRANDA AND CALIBAN is a beautifully written, heartbreaking story that is two parts prequel to and one part retelling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. While this book may not appeal to all readers, I was completely swept away and read it in one sitting. And have no fear: you don’t need to be a fan of the play to enjoy this!

Miranda is only six years old when her Papa first summons the wild boy to the ruined palace they call home. Completely isolated on a desert island with only her Papa for company, Miranda is overjoyed to finally have a friend…but Papa has put dark plans into motion, and Caliban is a part of them. Papa (AKA Prospero) uses his magics to bind Caliban, controlling him and Miranda both through amulets that afflict unbearable pain on their targets. Despite the circumstances of his time with them, Caliban develops a deep affection for the younger girl and she for him; as Miranda teaches the formerly mute Caliban English, the two forge a friendship that may doom them both.

If you’ve read the source material, you probably won’t find many surprises within the pages of MIRANDA AND CALIBAN, at least as far as the plot’s concerned. Carey sticks quite close to the original story, choosing to add her own interpretation of events that take place prior to those chronicled in The Tempest. I found it incredibly gripping to read about the daily lives of Miranda, Caliban, Ariel, and Prospero, and the many scenes of daily life on the island reminded me of the first part of Juliet Marillier’s Daughter of the Forest: gorgeously wrought portrayals of everyday, slightly magical activities. But if you’re looking for something with pulse-pounding action scenes or a twisty plot then you may want to steer clear!

What really propels MIRANDA AND CALIBAN forward is the creeping sense of doom that infuses the story, and the knowledge that whatever magic Prospero’s working on in his laboratorium is sure to have dire consequences for Miranda and Caliban. Adding to the tension is the fact that neither Caliban nor Miranda are ignorant of this fact, but they themselves cannot yet guess what precisely Prospero’s working on…and why it is that any of them are on this island in the first place.

Jacqueline Carey is an author I’ve been hoping to read for some time now, especially since many consider her “Kushiel’s Dart” series one of the greats of fantasy fiction; suffice it to say that her work does not disappoint. She slowly but surely puts her own twist on classic characters, using Miranda and Caliban’s POV chapters to fill in the gaps of their respective histories and personalities. Carey’s version of Caliban possesses a sweet gentleness and curiosity, while her Miranda is imbued with intelligence and a love for painting, which helped me picture them as more than just the characters from a favourite play that I studied in university. Reading Miranda’s narrative chapters grated on my nerves at times, since we see from all angles that Prospero abuses and manipulates her and yet she continues to obey and love him. In reality, that’s all perfectly in line with an abused child, but it’s difficult to take for 400 pages.

Prospero is perhaps one of the most unsettling characters I’ve read about in the last few years, not because he does anything especially evil but because his abuses and trespasses against others are so easily done. He never bats an eyelash and doesn’t appear to feel any real remorse, even when he injures Miranda so badly that she almost dies. The story of MIRANDA AND CALIBAN is a tragedy, and one of the hardest hitting realities of the story is that often times evil people are not punished, and good people are labelled evil for their differences.

Gorgeous and utterly heart wrenching, MIRANDA AND CALIBAN is a must-read for fans of fantasy and classic literature alike. Make no mistake, this is a retelling, but it's still a damn tragedy. Be prepared for some seriously painful stuff. If you enjoy books that make you feel things and then rip your heart out, you'll love this.
Profile Image for Ellie.
1,475 reviews372 followers
February 7, 2017
Miranda and Caliban is based on Shakespeare's play, The Tempest, one of my favorite plays. It takes the figure of the former Duke and sorcerer Prospero, his daughter, Miranda, and the spirit Ariel as well as the "monster" Caliban and explores their time on the island, the years in which Miranda grew up and became (in this version) close friends with Caliban. Prospero captured Caliban to get from him a name Caliban's mother a witch used to imprison Ariel. He holds him by magic and cruelty.

This Prospero is cruel, unlike the Prospero I imagined from the play, and this Miranda is his daughter made desperate by that cruelty. The book is far sadder than the play and lacks the humor found in another recent book based on the same play, Hag-Seed (by Margaret Atwood). I missed the humor but was touched by the pathos in this one, the loving and intense friendship between Miranda and Caliban, haunted by the malevolent spirit of this version of Ariel.

Despite the sadness, the book retains some of the magical feeling of the original play. Miranda is an artist: her painting helps Prospero work his magic. There is a wonder in her work that offsets the sadness of her life. There is little in this book that offsets the pain of Caliban's life.

I was deeply engrossed by the book, although I found the middle section slower than the childhood years or the great denouement of the final portion. It is a lovely book, whether or not you have read the play it is based on (although this book sent me back to read the play again). I strongly recommend it if you are looking for a fantasy of charm and sadness.

I received this book from NetGalley, Tor Books, and Jacqueline Carey (who has written the Kushiel series) in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Nancy.
417 reviews
February 14, 2017
This was a wonderful reinterpretation of Shakespeare's The Tempest. It was a lovely tropical escape for a cold winter evening. If you enjoy Shakespeare, you will enjoy this.

This book explores the relationship between Miranda and Caliban. The story starts when they are children and Caliban is brought (captured really) to live with Prospero and Miranda. The story alternates between Caliban's and Miranda's point of view. The voices of the characters start as small children and mature with each character. The author has done a wonderful job of showing how the Miranda and Caliban grow as people and in their understanding of the world around them.

Prospero, Miranda's father, has control of the Miranda, Caliban, and the sprite, Ariel, on the island. Caliban was necessary to Prospero because he was the means by which Prospero could gain control over Ariel. His focus is on his magic and working his revenge on those who caused him to be shipwrecked on the island. It is a quest for magical power and he is is willing to use all of them to accomplish his goals. Prospero does whatever he needs to do to keep control of Miranda and Caliban even if it is cruel. His control is threatened as the children mature and begin to question his authority and what he is doing.

Miranda and Caliban become very close because of their isolation and Prospero uses this closeness to control them. He is willing to use one to punish the other and he uses Caliban's feelings for his daughter to try and civilize him. Caliban feels that Miranda is the sunshine of his life. Miranda develops into a talented artist and derives great pleasure from her painting. Prospero starts including her painting skills in his magical works and this assists him in gaining the power he needs to set his revenge in motion. His magic and all of his plans come to fruition bringing his enemies to the island. Prospero is able to gain everything that he wants for Miranda but it is at the cost of her and Caliban's happiness.

This was a beautifully written book. The writing is very descriptive and I was able to picture the island and the characters in your head like a movie.

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley in return for a fair and honest review. I am very thankful for the opportunity to read this book.

Profile Image for Marta Cox.
2,573 reviews191 followers
February 10, 2017
I read some Shakespeare at school but not The Tempest so spotting this by an author whose reputation is phenomenal had me champing at the bit to see how it would all play out. As I knew little, ok nothing about the original story except someone named Prospero featured my eyes were fresh and my expectations high. Perhaps too high? I knew this book was from the point of view of the two lonely children and how they would become entwined and yet I wasn't sure just why others are divided on whether it's a comedy or a tragedy . My thoughts here are I didn't find anything amusing not even the Spirit Ariel who I'm guessing is supposed to be playful. I thought it sadly overlong with a build up that unfortunately became over far too quickly.
This story is character driven with both Miranda and Caliban sharing their points of view and their tumultuous feelings. Both are confused and indeed used by Prospero and it's far from a romance. A coming of age story and it was easy to understand the feelings the pair shared as they are both manipulated so harshly in order for Prospero to finally have what I can only describe as revenge.
Prospero is unlike able. An abusuve and reclusive Mage who sees no harm in using any and all to further his plans. It's impossible for Prospero to succeed in his plans without his daughters wondrous gift for art and indeed he needs far more than that from her! All this meant my heart broke for her time and time again as she was so cruelly let down. Yet there is an awakening that borders on sensual as the children grow that felt real , achingly so but the cruelty meted out just felt so very wrong
My final thoughts are the pace occasionally slowed down and I thought the end seemed so very rushed. I understood why Miranda chose what she did but it seemed so very cruel. All this answers my question of whether it's a tragedy or not and my answer is most definitely not a happy read but a compelling one nevertheless .
A copy of this was provided by Netgalley which I have voluntarily read and these comments are my own honest opinion
Profile Image for USOM.
2,429 reviews199 followers
February 15, 2017
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.

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.

disclaimer: I received this book in exchange for an honest review from Netgalley
full review: https://utopia-state-of-mind.com/revi...
Profile Image for Allison.
489 reviews186 followers
September 24, 2016
So so beautifully written like most of Carey's books. I'm trying to decide on a final rating, but I'm glad to see her get back to the lyrical fantasy I love her for.

Longer RTC.
Profile Image for Nicky.
4,138 reviews1,009 followers
March 17, 2017
Received to review via Netgalley; release date 14th February 2017

I’ll probably give anything by Jacqueline Carey a chance. I’m not a huge Shakespeare fan, and I wasn’t really sure if I’d like something retelling The Tempest. But it’s Jacqueline Carey’s work, so I requested it anyway. And… I loved it quite a bit. I wasn’t sure about the narration: honestly, Miranda sounded rather like Phèdre in many ways, and far too mature considering the narration is present tense, even when she’s a small child. I wasn’t sure about Caliban’s narration either, because I’m not a fan of broken English portrayed in fiction — it quite often comes out sounding like mockery.

But all the same, the writing has grace to it, and it’s certainly easy to read and absorb, despite the tendency to thee and thou. (I wish Ariel didn’t say “Oh, la!” like he was from Pride and Prejudice or something, though. It always sounds far too comical for me.)

The relationship between Miranda and Caliban, their tenderness for each other as each helps the other, is well done. The portrayal of Prospero as a somewhat abusive father who sometimes nonetheless shows tenderness for his daughter makes perfect sense, and so does the way his behaviour pushes the two together. Ariel’s capriciousness and ambivalence works, too.

The only problem, really, is that you know how it’s going to end. I found myself hoping all the same that it would end differently — it’s a retelling, after all. But at the same time, there’s always that sense of inevitability: you know what’s going to happen. I don’t think there’s anything revolutionary about this telling, but it humanises Caliban and makes of him much less of a monster, and more of a lover. The ending gave me a lump in my throat: his hope, despite Ariel’s warnings, despite Miranda’s doubts. It’s so tender and naive.

Originally posted on my blog.
Profile Image for Roman Clodia.
2,431 reviews2,511 followers
December 28, 2016
This is a lyrical story that takes place in the interstices of The Tempest: primarily in the backstory before the play begins. Miranda is 6 when it opens, and so we see her relationship with Caliban developing from when they're both children to what it is in Shakespeare's play. The storm which opens the play is at about 80% of the book, and the two stories come together beautifully.

Carey manages things very well: there are a few missteps at the start with some mock-Shakespearean language ('mayhaps', 'tis') but she drops this quite fast, and instead brings out issues over authority, gender and power.

The Tempest has such a long and complicated reception history that this doesn't hold any real surprises (and I did wonder if Carey has read Robert Browning's 'Caliban upon Setebos' for her characterisation) but it's full of lovely touches, not least Caliban's gorgeous linguistic musings on Miranda.

So a dreamy, hallucinatory book in places with some shocking moments (the inner workings of Prospero's workshop) and lovely lyricism - not everyone manages to rework a classic original without distorting it out of shape but Carey keeps Shakespeare intact while offering a nuanced re-reading at its boundaries.

Thanks to the publisher for an ARC via NetGalley
February 12, 2017
4 stars

"Thou art the shoals on which Caliban wilt dash his heart to pieces." 

I will admit, it's been a while since I read 'The Tempest', though I think you could probably never have read it and quite happily enjoy this book. 'Miranda and Caliban' is a retelling focusing on the younger years of the two protagonists, only entering the events of the play at the very end.

It was a beautifully crafted book, delicately written as Carey's work always is, meandering through lush prose and rich fantasy. 'The Tempest' has often been lambasted for its dearth of female characters and this story seeks to address that, giving an important voice to a character who is used mainly as a tool in the original text. Likewise, in 'The Tempest' I always felt slightly uncomfortable that Caliban, an Algerian man, was written in a way that seemed to suggest he both abhorred and adored his own subjugation. In this retelling both Miranda and Caliban are shown as prisoners of Prospero, prisoners of societal prejudices even on an island cast out into the sea.

I can say straight out that this book will not be for everyone. It's a cruel, hard book. Miranda and Caliban are kept under her father's finger through physical punishment and emotional manipulation. She is both revered by her father and treated like dirt, on one hand taught the basics of his complicated magical arts, on the other forced to do menial tasks in kitchen work and cleaning. Prospero's misogyny throughout the book left me with such a bad taste in my mouth, which I suppose shows the book is doing exactly what it intended to. Likewise, Caliban is subjected to horrific cruelty and unrelenting racism throughout. He adores Miranda, sees her as the sun in his otherwise grey, caged life, but he knows that he will never be allowed to be with her. It becomes so ingrained in him that, by the end, even he believes he is not good enough. Unfortunately, as this is a retelling, neither of our young protagonists gain their hearts desires.

This is a beautiful, lyrical book, filled with strange magic. I adored how Carey writes the capricious air spirit, Ariel, truly a creature of nature, beholden to no one other than themselves. I, personally, loved the heady, rich way that she writes, as if every paragraph is laden with heavy buds. I know that it won't be to everyone's taste. I can imagine that for some readers this book would be their idea of their worst nightmare, meandering, maudlin and unrelenting, but, for me, it was like being taken on an out of body experience.

So, if you enjoy reading a book for the feelings, for the journey and development as opposed to the plot, this is definitely a book for you. Even though it was sad, sometimes making me feel a little numb inside, it was so rich and immersive that I couldn't blame it. It's a book that makes you feel a lot of things, though not all of these sensations are so easy to pin down.

Many thanks to Macmillan-Tor/Forge for a copy in return for an honest review.

The beautiful cover is by Tran Nguyen.

Review originally posted at Moon Magister Reviews.

RTC. Hmm, still trying to work out my exact feelings about this book. It was beautiful and it added a lot to Shakespeare's canon. It's not going to be to everyone's taste as it's slow and it meanders. It meanders beautifully but nevertheless I can tell that if you're not a fan of slow books then you probably won't be interested in this.

There's quite a lot of cruelty in this book as well. Prospero is an abusive, racist, misogynistic old man, who uses his own daughter as a tool. There's very little kindness, and what little there can be is washed away by the final events of the book.

I think I need a little time to get my thoughts in order.
Profile Image for Holly.
312 reviews52 followers
March 13, 2017
Previous to reading Miranda and Caliban- my only experience with Jacqueline Carey was reading Phèdre's Trilogy. Similar to that series- M&C is dark. There are aspects of abuse (mental and physical), racism/classism, and lots of religious overtones. What makes this book so different from Phedre is there is very little eroticism and because it's JC's take on Shakespeare's Tempest- it has a very Shakespearian tone in both it's language and feel. While Phedre's series took place over large expanses of a city and country- M&C takes place on a lonely island in the middle of nowhere.

I went into this one blind- having never read or seen The Tempest. I debated the merits of googling the plot ahead of time but decided I'd rather not know. Now that I've done so (after the fact) it appears that JC took the plot of the Tempest and turned it on it's head. She raises the question of what if instead of hating the "monster"/Caliban- Miranda instead falls in love with him. She unites these two characters through the suffering inflicted upon them by Miranda's father the evil wizard Prospero. Prospero excels at taking advantage of those around him by any means necessary. And he claims he does it all in the name of love when in fact it's mostly for his own means.

While I can't say I LOVED this book- I definitely found it really fascinating and readable. The bulk of the book is a very long drawn out description of what happens when Prospero enslaves the wild/beast-like Caliban and attempts to tame him. I found many parts of the book difficult to read. Prospero's warped version of "love' that he shows his daughter is cringe worthy. His total distaste and mistreatment of Caliban was equally hard to read. Prospero is a very wicked and twisted man and my heart hurt for both M&C. JC spends many pages building up the relationship between M&C. Many years pass on this lonely island before the action of the plot comes to a head. The feelings they have for each other are naively sweet as can only be expected from two children who have been kept isolated from the real world their entire lives.

While the Tempest was a stand alone play- the end of JC's Miranda and Caliban seems to make it clear that this story isn't over. I'm really curious where JC will take this story next. I can only hope that Miranda will gain some backbone and like Phedre who came before her- start to rise above her station through the use of intrigue and cunning.

ARC generously provided through Netgalley.
Profile Image for Emma (howlsmovinglibrary).
326 reviews53 followers
February 8, 2017
Miranda is a lonely child. For as long as she can remember, she and her father have lived in isolation in the abandoned Moorish palace. The wild boy Caliban is a lonely child, too; an orphan left to fend for himself at an early age, all language lost to him. When Caliban is summoned and bound into captivity by Miranda’s father as part of a grand experiment, he rages against his confinement; and yet he hungers for kindness and love.

I received a free ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Miranda and Caliban is a retelling of Shakespeare’s Tempest, which is a) a really good play, and b) a colonialist fantasy told from the perspective of a powerful white man. The play’s protagonist is Prospero, a magician who can control all of nature and bend it to his will, which he uses to ‘civilise’ the Moorish (read African) island on which he is shipwrecked, and its inhabitants, in order to enact his revenge on his evil usurping brother. He has a daughter, Miranda, and a slave called Caliban, who is the son of a demon worshipping witch. Prospero explains in one scene that he tried to ‘civilise’ Caliban, but was unable to due to Caliban’s inherently evil blood, which led Caliban to attempt the rape of Miranda, the crime which is now used to justify his slavery.

Miranda and Caliban¸ as the name obviously suggests, takes this play and rewrites it without the colonialist ideology of Prospero – Miranda is now the narrator, and we see the world through her eyes, rather than her father’s. Some chapters are also written from Caliban’s point of view, and that means we get to see Prospero specifically as a slave master and coloniser. I really enjoyed this choice of focalisation, as it takes a critical stance on Prospero: he is made into the antagonist of the narrative, stubborn, racist and set in his ideals of Western civilisation, which he uses to dictate both Miranda and Caliban’s behaviour against there will. When Miranda, rather than her father, is allowed to tell her story, what happens is a romance: one that Prospero cannot understand because he has placed his daughter, the only figure of feminine gentility on the island, on a pedestal, and it is unthinkable that she would have feelings for a ‘monster’ like Caliban. It attempts to take a postcolonial stance on the play, criticising 16th Century ideas of femininity and of race.

Things I liked about it:
· The writing style is really beautiful. The dialogue is written in a semi-Shakespearean tone but still makes sense, which lent it authenticity.
· The book draws on a lot of postcolonial/feminist theory surrounding the play, which as a lit graduate made me very happy. But specifically, ideas of womanhood – like Miranda having to be a gentle and feminine noblewoman despite living on a freaking island with no one but her father to judge her – are interrogated, and giving Caliban a voice means that he’s no longer just the evil black demon worshipping slave. Making Prospero the antagonist was awesome, as it is portrayed all the damaging influences of patriarchy and embodied them in one character.
· Miranda has a lot of agency. She’s a magician in her own right, and strong willed. This is nice, because in the play she’s a little bit of a wet blanket, and not one of Shakespeare’s best written heroines. Similarly, some of the twists in the Carey’s plot explain away the problems with her character, specifically, the instalove between Ferdinand and Miranda.

Things I didn’t like about it:
Generally, I just I don’t think it goes far enough as postcolonial retelling. The first half of the book is amazing and merciless in picking apart Prospero’s version of events, but then things start to go downhill….
· A lot of this book deconstructs the racist image of Caliban as an animalistic, uncivilised slave. However, some stereotypes endure: for instance, he is more overtly and crudely sexual than Miranda. Oversexualisation is obviously a huge issue and I feel like Carey should’ve avoided it, particularly if you look at Othello, where Othello’s overt sexuality and sexual desire are portrayed as part of his inherent violence as a black man. And then the murder plot of The Tempest is kept in the book, which is basically just perpetuating this stereotype of violence.
· Further in this vein, the second half of the book is pretty much just a straight forward rehash of The Tempest, but from Miranda’s POV. The first half of the book is really interesting, as it offers something additional to the Tempest plot, looking at Miranda and Caliban’s childhood and the friendship they develop – stuff that Prospero only talks about, but we never see, in the play. But after that it just reverts to the Shakespeare story: it just felt a bit dull and boring to simply go through the play scene by scene. If I wanted that, I could reread the play.
· The ending. This book just kind of…finished. It’s not just that not much from the original plot was changed, or scrutinised in any way. It isn’t even the position the characters are in at the end, which is definitely not happy. It’s just that….nothing new happened. The book pretty much finishes where the play finishes, in a way that places Caliban at a serious disadvantage. It kind of undid all the work the first half of the book: Miranda is given more agency, but Caliban is left a powerless slave, and I just don’t get why no one saw how super problematic that is.
Profile Image for Evelina | AvalinahsBooks.
861 reviews440 followers
February 16, 2017
★★★✮☆ 3.5 stars

Miranda is a young girl who scarcely remembers living anywhere else but on a deserted island with her father – a strange man who claims to be Christian, and yet keeps household demons, enslaves spirits and sacrifices the occasional goat.

So, you know. Just the occasional dark magic.

Which brings me to the next bit. Apparently, there’s someone else on the island. He has been living there for quite a while.

They call him the wild boy, and he does not talk. He offers them a gift, and to his own undoing – because through it, he is enslaved by Prospero, Miranda’s father.

The next bit deals a lot with questions of freedom. To me, this part of the book felt like it was about Stockholm syndrome – should we be thankful to our gracious captors? Is it alright to bind a human being to your will through power, even if you treat them well?

Even though Prospero sees Caliban as a specimen, as a dirty lowly slave, sub-human at best, Miranda is yet a child and possesses a soft, loving heart. More than that, she is lonely! For she is a girl, growing up alone on an isolated island – it’s a fact her father seems to be too carried away to understand. So it’s no surprise that the two children form a bond, a friendship, which later blossoms into love.

But nobody in this tale has any will of their own, because Prospero is a grand puppet master, holding the strings to everybody’s fate. He will have his way, which will inevitably be tragic for the two young ones.

Things I liked about this book:

★ Prospero is a very good villain. He’s not all bad, he has so many human qualities about him. You can understand where he’s coming from and why he is the way he is. You wonder that maybe deep down there someone he even cares for Miranda. He just can’t help seeing the world the way he does because of how he’s been betrayed.

★ The tragedy in this tale is portrayed very well. Especially the ending – the ending is quite strong. I knew it was never going to end well, but knowing that and still provoking so many feelings? I applaud you, Jaqueline Carey.

★ The prose was good. And, as I’ve read in other reviews already, it seems it was trying to follow the style of Shakespeare himself – that would explain why I felt so utterly transported into the world the characters lived in, especially the time frame.

★ I liked the little world and the way it’s built – spirits, sylphs, gnomes. Stars and planets, celestial beings. Everything was so magical!

Things I disliked about the book:

✮ I know this was a retelling, so the author must have been a little bit limited in the time frames. But how old is Miranda? Can a child of 6 really teach another to talk? Can such a young kid even think the way she does? That really got me. She felt at least 13, good god. Especially contrasting that with Caliban, who at that point was about double her age, but acted and learned as a child younger than her. It just didn’t feel right.

✮ A lot of people have also mentioned this, but I just hated the way Caliban talked. Creepity creep, poppity pop. I know you are making him sound a little bit.. odd, cause he only learned to talk at age 12. But really? If I learned to talk so late and am basing my thoughts on the simplest of words, would I really use creepity creep? Where would I even learn that if no one else in the book says that? Just so unnatural. Apart from being extremely cringeworthy. I don’t think I cared much about words like that before this, but I know I’m going to cringe every time I hear them now.

✮ The book is simply too TMI! I understand most people think it’s YA? Not sure though, because alright – menstruation is okay for YA. But jerking off scenes? Should.. we really..? I mean, ugh. It was too much for me. A lot of that didn’t give anything to the book (in my opinion). But it might just be me, cause I dislike things like this in a book. We can catch on to things without being told. And we’ll elaborate as much as we want to. But being forced into being exposed to it, meh, I just don’t like that.

So… It was an okay book. There are definitely high points, and the story is told well. But these negative points were just too much for me. I have also heard similar TMI facts about other books by this author, so I don’t think I will be reading, say, Kushiel's Dart.

But! I think there is a high chance you could still enjoy this. If you are not sensitive to graphic parts (there was no sex, in the author’s defense), then you are totally fine and you should enjoy the story.

And, if you liked this review, you can find more of those here on my blog.
Profile Image for Leah Bayer.
567 reviews207 followers
February 14, 2017
It's almost Valentine's Day, the day of love! And what better way to celebrate that than by reading a Shakespearean tragedy? It's a perfect fit. Especially if you are a fan of The Tempest. It's my favorite Shakespeare play, and man is it a good time to be a fan of it. First Hag-Seed and now this? What a time to be alive.

This is kind of a prequel to The Tempest. The majority of it takes place before the events of the play, and we follow both Miranda and Caliban from their first meeting as children to their last moments on the island. And it is, in many ways, a doomed love story. We know that Miranda is beautiful and pure and her father wants her wed to royalty, and we know that Caliban is bent and misshapen and painted as a villain. It can't have a happy ending. And yet you root for them so hard!

As you'd expect from Jacqueline Carey, the writing is lush and descriptive. The fantasy elements of TT are really brought to the forefront, so this reads like historical fantasy/romance more than a straight retelling of the original work. She's really brought the unnamed island to life, along with its small group of inhabitants. It is, to be trite, quite magical.

I've noticed some comments about the liberties she took with the characters, but let's be real: Prospero is totally an asshole in the play. Sure, he got dethroned and abandoned on an island, but he literally takes a human (and a fairy!) as prisoner just so they can do shit for him, and he treats his daughter like a piece on a chessboard. Does Miranda WANT to marry Ferdinand? Prospero doesn't care. He's just looking out for himself. So while the version of him portrayed here is perhaps more maniacal and evil than in the play, it's not far off the beaten track. Caliban, too, is not as bad as Prospero would have you think in the play: I mean, he grew up as a wild boy and then was forced into slavery. Poor kid. So I feel like while this is a romanticized view of him, it's certainly one I can get behind.

I was so transported by Miranda & Caliban's friendship-turning-to-love that I really wanted more from this book. It was beautiful and bittersweet, don't get me wrong, but I think their adult section is rushed... as is the last 80%, which is when we finally get to the events of The Tempest. I think Carey does best in epically long books, and this certainly could have been 500+ pages. The rushed nature of the last half is really the only "flaw" (and I did dock a full star for it) but I totally adored this. Not quite as good a retelling as Hag-Seed, but given the different genres they were aiming for it feels almost unfair to compare them.
Profile Image for Kira.
1,241 reviews132 followers
February 17, 2017
Jacqueline Carey’s books are hit or miss with me, and this one was definitely a miss. In some ways this reminded me of the things I hated about Kushiel's Dart except this wasn’t as bad. The plots were completely different, but both books had a drab tone and dull, lifeless characters. The pacing was agonizingly slow. It took forever for the story to advance, and the end was anti-climatic. Since I have not read The Tempest, I had no idea how this would end. Knowing this was a retelling of Shakespeare’s work, I had expected the ending to be tragic or slightly more dramatic. The ending wasn’t a happy one, but maybe I wasn’t more affected because I didn’t care enough about the characters to feel their pain.

The book is told in two parts. In the first part Miranda is six and Caliban is several years older. The weird thing about her POV was that her inner thoughts sounded more like a mature adult in her thirties than a young child. It was really hard to believe she was a kid. She and Caliban grew close as children. Flash forward seven or so years to the second part, and their friendship had blossomed into love. The time jump made it feel like I missed out on something essential in the development of their relationship. This was not a romance, but their relationship was central to the plot. It was essential to grasp what they were feeling for the ending to have an impact.

Caliban was my favorite character. He stood up for what he believed in. Miranda was so disgustingly pathetic. Knowing right from wrong rarely caused her to act on it. All her father had to do was chastise her and she quickly cowed. She was practically blind to her father’s cruel and selfish ways, always determined to see the best in him. She seemed quite content to be ignorant. Her father openly admitted to keeping many things from her, and it was rarely questioned. Her father was evil. Absolutely nothing about him was good. The only other character Ariel wasn’t interesting. Knowing something of his background might have helped to make him more appealing.

The world building in regards to the magic needed more attention. Obviously Prospero was capable of magic, but were there limits to his abilities? Where did his power come from? Some stuff didn’t make sense. How come Miranda and Caliban each had a parent capable of powerful magic but neither of them had any? The story made sense, but considering the amount of time spent on a painstakingly slow plot, some of that time could have been invested in character development and further exploration of magic.

I received this from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Brie.
214 reviews18 followers
April 20, 2017
This story was amazing, and a great example of taking a vague canon (Tempest) and expanding on it and fleshing it out. It is such good material to do a retelling with too. Having read The Tempest, it is Miranda and Caliban's stories that are most vague and perfect for backstories.

This story is about two young people seeing the goodness and kindness in each other, without the ingrained prejudices of society (like that in adult Prospero). Miranda and Caliban grow up together and fall in love, and it's an innocent love built on deep friendship.

Carey's story really shows that Prospero is a man of his time, and even stranded on an island he won't turn away from his prejudices. He manipulates Caliban and Miranda for his own gains, making himself out to be a merciful master and a father who only wants the best for Miranda. He ultimately fails Caliban, seeing him only as a dark savage who cannot be equal to himself and Miranda. My heart bleeds for Caliban. He controls them, and Ariel. It is also Ariel's quiet fury at being tied to him that gets more fleshed out than in the canon.

This story allows us to see what may have happened before the events of the Tempest, and it follows Shakespearean speech so well it seems like this was always supposed to be Miranda and Caliban's backstories. All of the characters' actions in the Tempest are products of what Carey has crafted, and it's a sad tale, but not overly sad. Its a love story between two people who deserved better than they got. It's heart wrenching because we know the story can only end a certain way. But Carey leaves us with an open end, and me being hopeful, I see it positively.
Profile Image for Kristen.
324 reviews261 followers
March 8, 2017
Miranda and Caliban is inspired by Shakespeare's The Tempest and is largely a prequel, though the ending follows events in the play. The plot from the story is embellished more than changed, and it flips perspectives so Prospero is the villain. It's beautifully written, atmospheric, and one of the better books I've read this year, although I would have liked a little more original in-depth characterization.

Full Review on My Site
Profile Image for Billie.
930 reviews79 followers
September 29, 2016
Lush and lyrical, Miranda and Caliban retells the story of Shakespeare's The Tempest with a focus on the relationship between Prospero's daughter, Miranda, and the "wild boy", Caliban. Carey lends depth and backstory to Shakespeare's characters, while still remaining true to the way the Bard envisioned them. Full of magic and myth, sweetness and sensuality, Carey's return to Tor is also a return to the rich, layered fantasy that first captured readers in Kushiel's Dart.
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