The Golden Specific by S. E. Grove


Goodreads: The Golden Specific
Series: The Mapmakers Trilogy #2
Source: Library
Published: 2015


One year after she and her friend Theo helped save the world, Sophie Tims is still searching for news of her missing parents.  Then a clue arrives, beckoning her across the sea to an unknown Age.  She wants Theo to go with her, but a scheming politician is threatening the people Theo loves.  Separated from each other, Sophie and Theo will both have to uncover secrets from the past if they want to move forward.

Star Divider


In Boston it was still 1799, but elsewhere the Ages had gone their different ways.

In The Golden Specific, S. E. Grove takes readers back to an original world where the Great Disruption has thrown various geographic areas into different periods of time.  Some have moved forward, some have moved back, and some have become an intriguing mixture of past and future.  Protagonists Sophie and Theo move through this strange world effortlessly, delighting in the thrill of exploration and inviting readers to come along on a wild journey unlike anything else.

Importantly, Grove does not repeat The Glass Sentence in this second book of the Mapmakers Trilogy, but instead chooses to separate Sophie and Theo, and have each one confront their past.  Sophie is travelling alone, desperately seeking the clues to her parents’ disappearance nearly ten years ago.  And Theo is dealing with the dirty politics of New Occident, a place where people buy both their government seats and the time they need to address their own government.  The emphasis on politics is perhaps what sets this book apart from the first, which is more closely related to the typical fantasy quest, the journey to find an object of immense power.

Of course, changing directions in a trilogy is a risky move.  Readers who loved The Glass Sentence and its travel adventures may be less charmed by watching Theo maneuver through politics and even become a sort of undercover detective.  Fortunately, Sophie’s journey across old Europe still provides readers with plenty of new people to meet and locations to explore.  The world of the books is indeed getting larger, as characters from various Ages come together to solve some of the world’s great mysteries.

I do find it a little sad, however, that the mysteries must be solved.  For me, part of the books’ wild charm is that Sophie’s world is so unknown, so bizarre.  Knowing how it works spoils the magic a little.  But scientific inquiry is meant to solve puzzles, I suppose, and there’s no turning back.  Book three perhaps will reveal even more.

Fans of the first book will likely enjoy this installment, as well, as it brings back beloved characters while introducing a new cast of characters lovable in their own right.  The fantastic world-building is still here, as is the sense of adventure, and a little magic.  S. E. Grove is a mastery storyteller and The Golden Specific does not disappoint.

4 stars


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