Review by Booklist Review
Nell Young, whose mother died when she was a toddler, is thrilled to be working with her esteemed, if notoriously difficult, father in the Map Division of the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue. But when she discovers several valuable maps in a cache with a commonplace 1930 highway map of New York State, her father inexplicably becomes enraged, ruthlessly destroying her career and that of her boyfriend, Felix. After seven anguished years of estrangement from both men, Nell is summoned to the library where her father has been found dead at his desk. Shocked to find the highway map hidden where only she would find it, Nell embarks on what becomes an exceedingly mysterious, complexly dangerous investigation, reluctantly joined by Felix, who now works for a mega-high-tech corporation. Shepherd's second cleverly imagined novel after The Book of M (2018) turns our perception of maps upside-down. With an elaborately realized plot, fanatic cartographers, maps with surreal powers generated by phantom settlements (intentional errors), and many-faceted suspense, Shepherd contrasts science and art, obsession and love in a bedazzling metaphysical tale of lost and found.
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Disgraced cartographer Nell Young, the protagonist of this extraordinary mystery from Shepherd (The Book of M), was fired by her father, Daniel Young, a cartographic scholar in the New York Public Library's map division, after they argued over a map. Seven years later, Daniel dies in his office, apparently of natural causes. In a hidden compartment in his desk, Nell finds the map they argued over, a decades-old gas station road map of New York. She suspects the map is somehow related to his death, which she's sure is a case of foul play. She seeks help from her ex, who now works for the tech giant Haberson, whose eccentric leader, William Haberson, wishes to map the entire world and all knowledge within it. Gradually, Nell connects with the talented cartographers who were friends of her father and long-dead mother years before. They tell her of their last summer together and warn her of the threat from a member of their group obsessed with Nell's mother, who died in a house fire. Possessed of a questing intellect and a determined stubbornness, Nell proves smart enough to solve the various riddles she faces. Shepherd's convincing blend of magic from old maps with the modern online world both delights and thrills. Agent: Alexandra Machinist, ICM. (Mar.)
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Review by Library Journal Review
A campus novel, a library novel, a work of magical realism: Shepherd (The Book of M) deftly blends all three in an engrossing tale involving maps, murders, and rooms that are not there. Cartographer Nell Young had a bright future until her father inexplicably ruined her career. Now this legend who ruled the map rooms of the New York Public Library is dead, and his legacy seems to be a tattered, cheap map, the kind that was once handed out at gas stations when $10 filled the tank. But some maps, no matter how seemingly outdated, are magical. This one sends Nell and a growing cast of comrades into her parents' past, illuminating the outlines of terra incognita. Readers will be hooked and find their imaginations sparking as they turn the pages. Shepherd matches the drama and whimsy of the story with quick, straightforward prose that keeps her multilayered and accelerating plot neatly under control. VERDICT A shimmering delight, full of wonder, danger, and marvel. Suggest to readers of Erin Morgenstern, who has a similar ethos, and Natasha Pulley, who, like Shepherd, well knows how to end a story.--Neal Wyatt
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Review by Kirkus Book Review
A disgraced cartographer unravels a 30-year-old family secret hidden within the folds of a 20th-century gas-station highway map. Seven years after Nell Young and her ex-boyfriend Felix were publicly shamed and fired from the New York Public Library's Map Division--by none other than her own father, Daniel--following what she thinks of as the Junk Box Incident, Nell has settled for "adding flourish" onto printed replicas of maps at a store in Crown Heights. After she discovered a box of rare 18th-century maps and one doodled-on 1930s highway map in the library's basement, her father declared them worthless fakes and inexplicably got so mad at her for disagreeing with him that he had her fired; they haven't spoken a word since. Practically cartography royalty (Nell's late mother was a visionary in the field, and her father is the senior curator for the NYPL's main branch), Nell lost more than her reputation when she lost her internship at the library. Unlike Felix, who was immediately hired by the elusive William Haberson of the logistics and navigation company Haberson Global, Nell's had to scrape the bottom of the barrel for cartography jobs. But when Daniel is found dead at his desk with that very same highway map in a secret drawer, Nell begins to wonder if the map hides more than meets the eye. When she decides to do her own research, she uncovers an implausible relation between the map and her parents and soon learns of a competitive, dangerous group known as "the Cartographers" who are willing to pay--or kill--for the only copy left in existence. Shepherd plots page-turning twists and revelations with ease and excels in her knowledge of historical maps and cartographical mysteries. The inclusion of map diagrams and detailed flashbacks carry the reader right alongside Nell as she attempts to disentangle an increasingly complex, slightly supernatural secret. In an author's note, Shepherd promises that "something magical happens" when a person follows a map that lies, and this book will make you believe it. A highly inventive novel that pushes the boundaries of reality. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.