Miranda and Caliban by Jacqueline Carey is another borrow from Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Miranda is six when we first meet her and her Papa. She is in awe of his magic and his art as he conjures for the wild boy of the isle to approach. Papa talks to the spirits, wheels his magic using the power of the planets, and sacrifices a hen to entice the wild boy, Caliban, to their abandoned Moorish palace. Miranda is under Papa’s spell and wants to make him proud of her, so she is very careful. Papa is all she knows for now. Since we know The Tempest, we know this. Carey has fantastical skills, too, and asks us to forgive her her trespass.
This prologue introduces us to Prospero’s magic skills and we learn how he wields them to control Miranda via an amulet with a lock of her hair that is around his neck. H has an amulet for Caliban too. This is how he controls the two of them. There is infliction of pain too. Ariel is released from his spell laid on him by Caliban’s mother Sycorax. The password to unlock Ariel is Caliban’s father, Setebos. Ariel promises to be Prospero’s servant, so he is released. The relationships among these three is interesting and develops as any threesome does develop with strife, antagonism, and jealousy. Miranda likes and teaches Caliban, but doesn’t like or trust Ariel. Ariel taunts and looks down on Caliban, while Ariel annoys Caliban. “Together, we (Miranda and Caliban) become student and teacher alike as we learn and relearn the art of speech. As for Ariel, the spirit makes himself scarce from my (Miranda) presence, and I am grateful for it.” When Miranda gets her first period things change.
The Tempest is a ballet and Carey dances about the issues beautifully in this prequel. She is of course hampered with what she can do in a prequel as opposed to a sequel. I love the exploration of the four characters: Prospero, Miranda, Caliban, and Ariel. She interprets the play well, as she provides a good story of these four in this prequel. It is plausible. It works and is well done. I also like the interaction between Papa and daughter, as it helps us better understand their relationship in the play. Carey does a wonderful job with Prospero’s cell and magic. I now must go and read The Tempest again especially after this and Atwood’s contribution.
The idea of this book is well founded as are other prequels and sequels to Shakespeare’s plays, but it should have ended at the storm, Chapter Forty-Four. The rest is The Tempest.