Why did you choose this book?
I love history and cartography, and something about the synopsis for the second book in this series caught my eye. The second novel is The Golden Specific, and the third comes out this summer – The Crimson Skew. The series as a whole is called The Mapmakers Trilogy.
What’s it about?
Sophia lives in New Occident in 1891 with her uncle, a famous mapmaker. When he is abducted from their home, she sets out on a daring rescue with only one clue and a mysterious glass map to guide her. The book is substantially more complicated – I’ll go into the world-building in my review.
Juvenile fiction, alternate reality
Other recommended reads?
The alternate yet similar world reminded me of Philip Pullman’s trilogy: The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass (the trilogy is His Dark Materials). Though this series lacks the religious dimension found in the 3rd book of Pullman’s.
I struggled with trying to decide if I loved this book or not. I also struggled with its classification as a JFIC novel. While it doesn’t contain the mature themes usually found in teen books, it uses an advanced vocabulary, extremely complicated world-building, and is very long (nearing 500 pages).
I LOVED the world created in this book. In the 1790s, everything froze for one moment, and in that moment, every season passed before the eyes of the spectators. When it unfroze, different regions of the world had been thrown into different eras. Canada was in the Ice Age (Prehistoric Snows), America was in the same time (New Occident), Mexico was past, present, and future (the Baldlands), Europe was in the medieval era, and Egypt was in the era of the pharaohs. I adore the exploration so central to this new world.
I also loved the conception of maps in this trilogy. Paper maps are just as they are in our world. Glass maps are activated with light and contain the memories of people. Cloth maps are activated with wind and contain weather patterns. Metal maps are activated with heat and contain memories of man-made structures. Clay maps are activated with water and contain topography. Stacked together, you experience a full memory of a time and place.
Overall, it’s a good read in a fascinating world, but not for the faint of heart.
The Golden Specific by SE Grove