Prospero Lost by L. Jagi Lamplighter
More than four hundred years after the events of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, the sorcerer Prospero, his daughter Miranda, and his other children have attained everlasting life. Miranda is the head of her family’s business, Prospero Inc., which secretly has used its magic for good around the world. One day, Miranda receives a warning from her father: “Beware of the Three Shadowed Ones.
When Miranda goes to her father for an explanation, he is nowhere to be found.
Miranda sets out to find her father and reunite with her estranged siblings, each of which holds a staff of power and secrets about Miranda’s sometimes-foggy past. Her journey through the past, present and future will take her to Venice, Chicago, the Caribbean, Washington, D.C., and the North Pole. To aid her, Miranda brings along Mab, an aerie being who acts like a hard-boiled detective, and Mephistopheles, her mentally-unbalanced brother. Together, they must ward off the Shadowed Ones and other ancient demons who want Prospero’s power for their own.
I wanted to like this book. Really. It’s up my alley with its take on Shakespeare and its use of critters like barghests. Unfortunately, all I can muster is a strong “Meh.”
First, I seem to have developed an aversion to first person POV. During the first 60 or so pages of the book I found it frustrating that I was only going to experience this story through Miranda’s eyes. I’d love to have more from Mab’s POV. He’s definitely my favorite character with his “just the facts, ma’am” style.
Second, this book had no tense moments for me. Time and again, the characters are thrown into peril, but are quickly rescued. Time and again, Miranda tells us she feels sorrow or anger or devastation, but I never get a sense of it beyond the telling. She’s as likely to tell us that she’s feeling joy and amazement and I don’t feel those either. There seems to be a possibility that the narrator is being fundamentally manipulated, but if she is, she’s not given any release from it by the end of the book.
Third, I’m not a fan of fantasies in which the real world is manipulated by a shadow organization. You know that volcano eruption? That was because a business deal fell through. Nope. Sorry. The world is way too complex for that sort of thing to exist. Even in a fantasy.
The one thing I did like about Miranda is the messy relationship with her family. Even if she is being controlled, I can relate to being loyal and loving your family even when they’re idiots.
There may be spoilers beyond this point.
Pg. 88 – Is deus ex machina a valid way of solving problems if your characters *are* gods (or close to being gods)? I don’t have a good feeling for what the rules of this fantasy world are.
Also, I’m not really buying into Mephisto being mentally shattered. I just don’t have a good enough vision of him earlier to find this happy-go-lucky character tragic.
Pg. 129 – There is always the possibility that our narrator isn’t entirely reliable. That’s intriguing.
Pg. 161 – Meeting up with Father Christmas makes me wonder if this, like C. S. Lewis’ series, is a biblical analogy. Also wondering exactly what bearing a creation story has on this story. Not the world building, but *this* story.
Pg. 175 – Mab seems to be the savvy one here. Does it not occur to him that the guy that’s been a prisoner in Hell might have picked up some pretty good abilities as a con?
Pg. 221 – Logistilla is the most cardboard character I’ve ever encountered.
Pg. 228 – The whole appalling bodies thing is taken care of in a couple sentences? Does any event have any real weight for this character?
Pg. 302 – WTF is with the bear digression? Is this supposed to be a lesson in reputation vs. reality?
Pg. 332 – For a woman that is hundred’s of years old, she acts like a teenager. I don’t think you can explain away being unsavy just because someone is a virgin.