There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of William Shakespeare adaptations in literature, but every once in awhile, one comes along that really reimagines the Bard's original works in such a remarkable way, you can't help but ask: who did it better? That's what it's like reading Jacqueline Carey's Miranda and Caliban, the one you Shakespeare retelling you need to read this year.
Written by the bestselling fantasy author of the Kushiel's series, Miranda and Caliban is a retelling of Shakespeare's classic tragicomedy, The Tempest, as a dazzling yet doomed love story. Set in the 12 years leading up to, and then during, the events of the original play, Carey's reinvention imagines Miranda, the tender and devoted daughter of the wicked Prospero, and Caliban, a wild and strange halfling bound to serve the evil magician, as childhood friends brought together in their youth only to be torn apart as adults.
When Prospero first enslaves Caliban, he has the intention of using the wild boy the same way he uses his daughter: As a tool in his cruel and devious plan for revenge. But the exploited young children form a fierce bond, and as Miranda trains Caliban on how to act civilized, the couple find their connection runs deeper than just teacher-student, one much stronger than Prospero can stand. Unfortunately for their young love, though, a storm is brewing on the horizon darker and more violent than they could imagine.
A remarkable reimagination of Shakespeare's work that honors not only the original story but the original writing itself, Jacqueline Carey's rich and lyrical prose builds like a storm until it reaches its stunning conclusion. Magical, heartbreaking, and, above all, beautiful, this is adaptation will help you see The Tempest in a whole new way.
Starting to sound tempting? Then here are five other reasons that will convince you Miranda and Caliban is the one Shakespeare retelling you need to read.
1It lets you get to know Miranda and Caliban in a whole new way.
In The Tempest, Miranda was a one-dimensional character who served mainly as a plot device for Prospero's story, but in this new retelling, reader's get an intimate look at the tragic figure, as well as her even more tragic love, Caliban. Told in alternating first-person perspective, Miranda and Caliban gives readers an inside look into these complicated people during the most formidable years of their lives as they learn, grow, and fall in love with each other. While getting to know them so well only makes it harder to watch their fates unravel, seeing them in a wholly new way cements them as the timeless characters they truly are.
2It tells the story before the story.
The plot of Shakespeare's original play takes place after Prospero and Miranda have been stranded on an island for 12 years, but what happened before that? Miranda and Caliban fills in all the blanks, showing how each choice led to the action we know from The Tempest. The joint coming-of-age story of Caliban and Miranda help readers get to know the characters themselves, their motivations, and their desires better. Ultimately, the additional background puts the original story in a new, even more tragic light, but makes it so much richer and deeper than it was before.
3The world-building will transport you to another place and time.
Miranda and Caliban weaves a rich, sensory story of life on a deserted island where magic reigns and enchantment is found around every corner. Drawing from her experience in fantasy writing, Jacqueline Carey uses her world building skills to create an exotic land where gnomes are like maids, powerful gods take the form of tiny lizards, and the natural beauty of the land is as stunning as it is dangerous. It's a rich and vibrant story that comes to life around you as you read, and makes you feel like you've truly gone somewhere else.
4It's dark themes are particularly relatable to our current political climate.
Many of Shakespeare's original plays are infused with underlying political themes, including The Tempest, which includes themes of colonialism. In Caliban and Miranda, the themes of power and control ring particularly true in our current climate where the group in power is working tirelessly to assign others as subservient "less-thans." Prospero, one of Shakespeare's most infamous villains, takes on an whole new layer of evil, and his unyielding quest for power and vengeance just might remind readers if a fea real-life politicians they know.
5The star-crossed love story will make you swoon — and then sob.
A tragic tale from the first page to the last, Miranda and Caliban is the kind of read that requires a box of tissues with it. But before it makes you sob from sadness, it will make you swoon for the two young lovers who want nothing more than to be together, but who are destined to come undone. Powerful, romantic, and stirring, this is one star-crossed love story you won't be able to forget.
Miranda and Caliban by Jacqueline Carey, $17.10, Amazon