Published by Bloomsbury on April 2014
Genres: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Young Adult
Amazon • Amazon UK
Sharra's world is a terrifying place. Violent seismic 'Shifts' and outbreaks of an all-consuming black fire radically alter landscapes on an increasingly frequent basis. Only the Map Makers can predict where the Shift will fall, and Sharra, daughter to one of the most famous Map Makers, yearns to join their ranks and break a cultural taboo which forbids female cartographers.Sharra's father, Lord Milton, is one of the few to challenge the current order, but his shadowy past limits his political reach and his second wife, Lady Ivory, is determined to manipulate him to ensure a privileged future for herself and her daughter, Jayne. The main obstacle standing in Ivory's way is Sharra.
As a mapmaker myself, I really wanted to love this book. While the premise was amazing, the way in which the story was told fell a little flat for me.
The world is in danger. A terrible darkness threatens to swallow the land and only the Mapmakers can show people where the safe areas are to live and farm. Sharra knows that women are not allowed to make Maps. So then why does she feel so drawn to her father’s MapMaking study, and why does she feel the urge to draw so much? There’s much more to being a Mapmaker than just drawing on paper.
The magic system in the Maps is just amazing, and the world being attacked by the evil forces sounds like it as well, but it is frustratingly out of reach in this book. I kept hoping that the Mapmaking process would be explained more in-depth, or that Sharra would actually do a little more Mapmaking, but all I got were bits and pieces.
There’s a romance aspect in this story that I thought was really unnecessary, and also a little weird. Maven has lost his fiancée and is bent on revenge against her killer. Why on earth would he hook up at all with Sharra? Apart from that, I loved Maven. He was rude enough to be funny and still helped Sharra when she most needed it. Sharra herself was okay I suppose, quite horrified at her own abilities but unable or unwilling to use them to her advantage. Not really hero material just yet, but I’m sure there’s more of this story coming.
This is only a short book, but it had slow pacing at times and didn’t flow very well. Once the action got underway, Sharra and Maven sort of jumped around all over the place and finally ended up in a pretty exciting finale.
– While it may sound like I didn’t enjoy reading this book at all, I actually did, honest! The world-building and magic system were fascinating, but I would have loved to read more about them and less about life at Sharra’s father’s house.