A review by katrinarose
The Cartographers, by Peng Shepherd

adventurous lighthearted mysterious fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated


If I had read this is middle school I probably would have loved it, given it 4 stars. It has a fun original premise with an intriguing murder mystery and it’s very fast-paced and engaging. Now though, I can’t look past the gaping plot holes, cringey dialogue, questionable “magic” system, and bad character development. Most, if not all of the major conflict in the book would have been resolved if people just talked to each other. Even after it was “explained” later why (can’t say why - spoiler) Nell’s father fired her, ruined her professional and romantic life and cut her out of his life altogether for 10 years, the explanation makes no sense. This is the foundation for a large portion of the book and it is just stupid. All the character’s motivations were so underdeveloped. Another reason why this felt like a middle grade book is because every character acts and talks like a high schooler at the oldest. But Nell is supposed to be 35?! And everyone else is that age or older? I don’t understand why the author chose to make them that old when the story would’ve worked if Nell was 21 years old and at least we can imagine that her prefrontal cortex was not yet done developing to explain the stupid stuff she does. If I got more into the plot I could rant more but I don’t want to hate on it too much, at the end of the day it’s a cute little middle grade mystery that I’d recommend for those ages and that’s it.

Expand filter menu Content Warnings