The Mapmaker's Daughter

Title: The Mapmaker's Daughter
Author: Caroline Dunford
Publisher: SpellBound Books
Publication Day: 25th August 2021

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 that 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. 

About Caroline Dunford

Caroline lives for stories. Reading them. Telling them, Watching them. She can’t get enough of them. She can hypnotise people and she sings well in the shower. She enjoys cooking, but hates housework, and has managed to convince everyone who knows her that she doesn’t understand washing up. So much so that when friends visit some of them do it for her. Fortunately she also has a dishwasher. She always feels she didn’t make enough of her teenage years, and hopes that at least the teenagers in her books do!

You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or her website

The Mapmaker's Daughter

Caroline Dunford's The Mapmaker's Daughter is an interesting tale of political wrangling, betrayal and ecological disaster.

The Shift moves across the land bringing devastation in its wake. The Mapmaker's work to prevent this, but their battle to stop the Shift is becoming harder to predict.

The story starts with our MC, Sharra and her socially conscious sister Jayne being Waylaid by a man delivering maps to two towns. However, after his horse breaks it's leg, he has to commandeer a horse. Enter Sharra and Jayne. The Two Daughters of master Mapmaker, Milton.

It is from here that the story springboards off to give a view of the current happenings within the Milton household and the plot, which whilst having a slow start, full of intrigue and political machinations, eventually careers off to become a full blown adventure story.

The book is essentially a story of two halves, with the first half set in the Milton household, and the second half being set in the wider world. For me, I found that as well as being two halves to the book, there was also two tones to the book, with the first half feeling like gothic horror, reminding me very much of Daphne du Maurer's Rebecca, accentuated by the fact that Sharra's mother is a ghost like presence seeping through the essence of the first half of the story. We get constant hints that she is there and that there was some tragedy surrounding her death. Add to that the creaking eeriness of the house and it's forest like library that women are not allowed to enter as they may disrupt the balance. And the second half of the book becomes more of an action/adventure story.

It is obvious that Caroline Dunford likes fairy/folktales as she manages to bring in various tropes of fairy tales such as the evil stepmother who marries the father after the mother has died in tragic circumstances, and is  totally selfish, only concerned with her own status, hating the stepdaughter and favouring her own. She also manages to get the tale of Stone soup in there, which is one of my favourite tales as a child.

On top of this she manages to bring in some prescient topical subjects with the main antagonist of the story, the Shift, which reflects current topics such as climate change and the effects of over resourcing the planet. And whilst Sharra's stepmother, Ivory, is the villain of the group (I didn't think I would ever get a Zappa skit in a review😁), the ecological threat of the Shift is the thing that drives the story as it affects the whole of the world that Caroline Dunford has built, and also the what the magic system is based on.

However, for me, one of the main themes that runs through the story is the consequences of our actions, both on a micro level and on a larger scale, and this permeates throughout the book. Now I don't want to go into it too much as this would be major plot spoilers so let's leave it at that shall we?

Now I have talked a lot about topics and themes, but what about the characters. Well, I have to say I liked the characters of the story, especially Sharra, who I liked due to the fact that she is not a perfect character and there are subtle shifts in her  personality throughout the book. Initially, she is precocious and at times exasperating. However, midway through the book, she becomes more vulnerable and less sure of herself when she is taken out of her environment, which added to her character and making her more likeable.

Unfortunately, I wasn't that struck on Ivory to be honest. Her character is good, but I wished that she got more page time in the second half of the book, and some more development time, as I felt that she was more of a device to move the story along rather than being an actual part of the plot.

Maven, the other character moves the story along, and quite interestingly harks back to one of my earlier points, in that the book is about consequences, as Maven has being directly affected by certain events in the book, which has a significant effect on the story. Again, I won't go into that part of the story due to spoilers, but it took me by surprise, and I like being surprised!

Now one thing that I found, is that  there were a few characters and storylines that I wanted to have a little more depth with, and in my opinion, felt they fell by the wayside due to the brevity of the book. One of these being Gory. I found him to be quite interesting and a bit of a Lord of Misrule type of character that initially sows seeds of chaos, but he kind of disappears in the latter part of the story. I found myself wanting some more depth to him and explore how he could affect the story. Similarly, Dale's story seems to be on the sidelines and when he becomes a little more prominent in the story, I found that the impetus of him and the mercenary army threatening Maven's village was a little bit lost. And I think for me personally, that these two things could have been expanded on. 

The magic system is quite intriguing. As you can guess it is based on maps, and I liked the idea of how it works. It is nicely woven into the details of the story, but as time moves on in the book, it becomes a part of the plot. 

There are loads of things that I liked in this book, the way it starts as a character driven book but then metamorphoses into a plot focussed story. The pace of the plot, the intriguing magic system and the characters as a whole. And added to the fact that Caroline Dunford's prose is really easy to get along with. I mean, it took me about two days to read this book, so I think that that in itself shows how much I enjoyed it.

So there you have it, my thoughts on The Mapmaker's Daughter by Caroline Dunford.

As an aside, I would like to thank the publishers and Zooloo's tours for a chance to read this book.

If this book has interested you, here are the links for Amazon UK and Amazon US

As always, thank you for visiting the site

And Happy Reading 😊


  1. Love this detailed review! Thank you so much for this review and for being part of the tour today!


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