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The Cartographers by Peng Shepherd

The Cartographers

by Peng Shepherd

Quick take

When her father turns up dead in the NY Public Library, a disgraced mapmaker has to find her true north ASAP.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_400

    400+ pages

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Quirky


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Murder


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Nyc



What is the purpose of a map?

Nell Young’s whole life and greatest passion is cartography. Her father, Dr. Daniel Young, is a legend in the field, and Nell’s personal hero. But she hasn’t seen or spoken to him ever since he cruelly fired her and destroyed her reputation after an argument over an old, cheap gas station highway map.

But when Dr. Young is found dead in his office at the New York Public Library, with the very same seemingly worthless map hidden in his desk, Nell can’t resist investigating. To her surprise, she soon discovers that the map is incredibly valuable, and also exceedingly rare. In fact, she may now have the only copy left in existence…because a mysterious collector has been hunting down and destroying every last one—along with anyone who gets in the way.

But why?

To answer that question, Nell embarks on a dangerous journey to reveal a dark family secret, and discover the true power that lies in maps…

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of The Cartographers.

Why I love it

When I read, I typically read slowly. If a book were a meal, I’d be the annoying person at the table still nibbling on her tiramisu twenty minutes after everyone else had finished. So when I say I “devoured” a book, you need to understand how exceedingly rare for me that is.

I DEVOURED The Cartographers.

Maybe it’s because I spend too much time in antique stores, but the thought of finding an old map that conceals a dangerous secret is intoxicating to me. Our heroine, Nell, clearly feels the same way. After the suspicious death of her father, an esteemed cartographer, she discovers a cheap gas station map among his belongings. But what at first appears to be worthless, turns out to be more valuable than even the rarest map in the New York Public Library’s collection. So valuable, that just having it in her possession puts her life at risk.

The real thrill of this story is when you find out why the map is so valuable. The why made me read even more voraciously than I had before. The why was a fresh plate of French fries (objectively impossible to consume slowly).

I hope you read this book. I hope you devour this book. Then I hope you tell all of your friends to read it, too.

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Member ratings (24,555)

  • Andie T.

    Joliet, IL

    A remarkable story! It’s been a long time since I’ve been sad about a book ending because I wasn’t ready to leave that world and its characters. Such an enjoyable adventure, & the author’s note!! 5⭐️

  • Kelly N.

    Matthews, NC

    Somewhere between “liked” & “loved.” I loved it up until the end. There’s some definite magical realism happening & I’m ok with that, but the ending was somewhat improbable & incredulous. Love NYPL!

  • Gianna M.

    Lancaster, PA

    This book makes you feel like a magical discovery is possible through research + dedication to niche nerdy fields. It read like a more compelling “raw shark texts” or more accessible “house of leaves”

  • Alondra M.

    Brattleboro , VT

    Omg I can't describe how much I loved this! The plot was so different from anything I've read before and knowing it has real things from OUR actual world made it 10x better. Please read this book ⭐️????

  • Michelle M.

    Walla Walla, WA

    So different from what I’ve read before! Mystery; adventure; betrayal; heartache; excitement; timeless friendship; and Magic all in one book!!! Couldn’t be better. Hope to find more from this author????