Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Mapmaker's Children

By Charlotte
Book Review: The Mapmaker's Children by Sarah McCoy
Official FC Rating:

Let me just start off with the one important thing you need to know: The Mapmaker's Children, by Sarah McCoy, is a very good book. It's The Twelve Tribes of Hattie meets Sarah's Key. If you know how I feel about those two books, you know that's high praise from me.

The book is written in alternating narration. We've got Eden, a woman living in current day Virginia, and Sarah, the daughter of John Brown (of Harper's Ferry) living before and during the Civil War. I admit I'm tiring of this kind of writing (seems like more and more authors are turning to it), but McCoy pulls it off. 

Sarah, probably the more likable and interesting protagonist of the two, is independent, willful as her father, and extremely loyal to the people she loves and to truth and goodness. While her mother and sisters take to grieving after her father is executed, Sarah instead vows to carry on his abolitionist work. She cannot have children, but she decides she will carry on his legacy more than any of his other children can. Sarah is a gifted artist, and she paints maps for the slaves and abolitionists of the Underground Railroad. She adopts as family her father's "trusted friends," other people who hold the same values. 

Eden is 36 or 37, married to a good man, and emotionally unstable after miscarriages, infertility, and years of hormonal IVF treatments. She is bitter as hell. She's very snappy and closed off to everyone. To be honest, for the first three quarters of the book I really didn't like her chapters. Eventually we start to see some character development. She's living in the same area as some of those "trusted friends" of Sarah's father lived 150 years ago. 

Just like Sarah's Key, we've got a mystery in this book. Our current characters stumble upon random, old objects and wonder where they're from. And we read the book and figure it out. :) 

Aside from our mystery, we have two women dealing with the prospect of never becoming mothers, one of them more upset about it than the other. We've got distant lovers. We have war. This book is historical fiction, it's romance, it's feminism, it's more than we can ask for in any one book.

The writing itself was good. I mentioned earlier that it was a cross between The Twelve Tribes of Hattie and Sarah's Key. I'd say the writing is better than the latter, not as good as the former (but close!). It gets a four out of five because it took too long to make me feel invested in Eden. For so much of the book I was just wishing I could have a novel about Sarah and Freddy (I mentioned distant lovers!) and the abolitionists, and bemoaning the fact that I needed to read about Eden's struggles. I ended up enjoying Eden's story toward the end, but I definitely think the pace could have been better.

Over all, I would recommend this to my friends. Go get a copy now!!


Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the Blogging For Books program in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own.


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