Jacqueline Carey, author of the fantasy classic Kushiel’s Dart, weds her lyrical prose to one of Shakespeare’s most enigmatic plays in Miranda and Caliban. This haunting tale of innocence, sensuality and rebellion tells the story of the vengeful magician Prospero’s daughter, Miranda, and his servant, Caliban, before the events of The Tempest.
The novel begins when Prospero forces Caliban into his service. Miranda, still a young girl, quickly takes to Caliban, helping her father in his efforts to “civilize” him. As the narrative draws ever closer to the events of Shakespeare’s play, Miranda and Caliban struggle to define their lives outside of the roles preordained for them.
Carey clearly has great respect and affection for Shakespeare’s work, but is unafraid to engage with the text from a modern perspective. The corroding effects of colonialism and vengeance, themes that ran under the surface of the original play, have immediate and heartbreaking effects here. The world of Prospero’s island is as rich and vital as it is harsh and unforgiving, and Carey deftly navigates the growing maturity of her two main characters, imbuing the pivotal moments in Miranda and Caliban’s development with shocking beauty and deeply felt emotion.
Revisions and retellings of Shakespeare’s plays are frequent, but Carey reshapes The Tempest with an uncommon grace and startling clarity. She understands the devastating impact choices, no matter how innocent, can make.