Book Review: Miranda and Caliban by Jacqueline Carey


Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Tor

Length: 336 pages

Format: eARC

Rating: 3.5 stars

Publication Date: February 14th 2017



Publisher’s description

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.


Book Review


This new book by Carey is a prequel/retelling of the famous William Shakespeare’s play: The Tempest. The story starts when Miranda is six years old and she lives with her father, Prospero, on the island where they were exiled by Propero’s treacherous brother so it starts quite a few years before the actual opening of the play, however it does end pretty much at the same time as The Tempest.

When the book starts, Miranda is a very isolated child, her only companions are her father and several spirits conjured by him. She doesn’t know a lot about who she is or the world she lives and her father mostly lets her in the dark. However, she soon realizes that she’s not the only child on the island, a wild boy with dark skin that can’t speak but who seems to observe her from afar. Prospero wants to capture  this child to “civilize” and to control him thanks to his magic abilities and his capture might allow Miranda to finally make herself a friend.

I love Jacqueline Carey, she is one of my favorite fantasy author, I  have read two of her trilogies set in the Kushiel universe and I really liked them, they are gorgeously written and fascinating reads.  Anyway, let’s just say that I was immedietaly inrigued by Miranda & Caliban when I first heard of its existence. I knew that Carey knew how to write but I was curious to see how she would approach a retelling of this famous play.


Miranda and Caliban was definitely a good book and one of its strongest point was, in my opinion, the writing. It is very lyrical and is very reminiscent from Shakespeare’s prose. It might be a little “heavy” for some but I did find that it flowed very well and that it worked with the story and the tone of the book.

The characters were also well drawn with really interesting personalities. I liked how Carey portrayed Prosepero, whose love for his daughter wither in comparison of his love for vengeance. Ariel was also a very interesting character, I don’t know why but when I read the play (a few days before starting this book), I pictured Ariel as female and it was a bit surprised when I realized that Carey used the pronoms « he ». I guess for me the name Ariel was a female name but anyways, it doesn’t matter much because, I think that the character of Ariel can change genders when they want. Miranda and Caliban relationship was also complex and it was fascinating to see how those two characters that were at the same very different and quite similar built their relationship and how their feelings influenced the story.

So, overall, I found Miranda and Caliban to be a strong book, however, as much as I liked the amazing job Carey did using Shakespeare’s world, I just wished she had taken more liberties with the plot because I felt like , the fact that she limited herself to telling the story in the same way Shakespaere did, restrained her and I wished she had gone farther in the story.

If you are looking for a tragic romance story and that you are a fan of The Tempest, treat yourself and read this book. If you have not read The Tempest but you are still intrigued by this book, you should also try it, it stands on its own very well and it could be a great introduction to The Tempest.



I received a copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to Tor Books.



12 thoughts on “Book Review: Miranda and Caliban by Jacqueline Carey

    1. I can see that, her characters were different form the play both Miranda and Caliban were much more interesting in her book than in the play where they are fairly one dimensional. However, I wished she didn’t stick so much to the plot of the play because, even if the charactres aren’t the same, the “end result” is the same… I read a couple of reviews of this book and I appear to be the only reviewers to be thinking this so I might be on the unpopular side of things! 😛


  1. Glad to hear you enjoyed the book, even if it’s probably not as much as you’d hoped. I liked it a lot, though obviously not as much as her Kushiel books (but come, it’s Kushiel, lol) and she does write beautifully. Interesting that you brought up the gender of Ariel, I think that’s actually a topic which has been widely debated by Shakespeare scholars. I can’t recall the consensus!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I didn’t know that, it is very interesting! I think that in the play I imagined Ariel to be female because in Foz Meadows’s Coral Bones, a novella inspired by the Tempest Ariel is female and since it’s not explicit in the play, I didn’t really thought about it much so that’s why I was a bit suprised reading Miranda and Caliban 🙂


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