#1 in the Mapmakers Trilogy by SE Grove
I have mixed feelings about this one.
The premise is undeniably cool: an event referred to as The Great Disruption broke time and separated the world into different Ages. I haven’t gotten to read a lot of Historical Fantasy (outside of Romance) so I was pumped. …until I realised that none of the Ages resemble actual real world historical periods. I could have sworn that places like Boston were mentioned, and there were real places on the maps at the front. The locations seemed more like stuff out of Oz books or Furthermore. It didn’t really matter that it was 1891 in Boston.
But the writing is quite good. Some of the descriptions are truly great, it all flows well, and I liked the more poignant twists especially. Even though the supporting cast is rather more mild than they are interesting, with the weird uniting aspect of all being boringly good people even if they were pirates. Theo being willing to lie and steal honestly made him a bit of a breakout character. As a main character, I found Sophia capable and likeable.
Sadly, aside from the premise only half-delivering by giving us what is basically an original magical world, it doesn’t even have consistency rules/method/logic to the most central magic of its world–map-making. For all that there’s a tonne of discussion of cartology (like cartography wasn’t a good enough word?), I never got how or why it worked. Or even what it actually did. What practical use are memory maps? They seemed like cool things that were hard to make and completely useless despite everyone talking up how useful they are.
I think when it comes down to a basic question like, “Would I recommend this or not?” the answer is Sure. It isn’t a difficult read, nor is the language or story insultingly simple. I would add the caveat to expect nothing, though. There are a lot of red herrings–the worst of which is made much of at the beginning and hand-waved in the epilogue–and to be honest, there isn’t a lot here that you can’t find in another book.
Maybe if someone could amend the description to tell you what you should actually expect. A plucky young girl goes on a quest to rescue her kidnapped uncle and makes a lot of friends in different magical lands. There’s a guy named Mazapán who makes edible props like chocolate teapots. I have always wanted a chocolate teapot.