Thursday, February 11, 2016

Book Review - The Mapmaker's Children by Sarah McCoy

Book Synopsis
Have you ever wondered if your decisions could change the course of history? Questioned whether or not bad things happen for a reason? In Sarah McCoy's THE MAPMAKER'S CHILDREN: A Novel (in paperback February 9, 2016), two women's lives are inextricably linked as they struggle through personal conflicts and wade through mysterious secrets. As the chapters alternate between these two commanding female protagonists, the reader must redefine courage, family, and destiny alongside these two remarkable women.

Sarah Brown, the fiercely independent daughter of abolitionist John Brown, is a talented artist in 1860s West Virginia. When Sarah discovers that she cannot bear children, she turns her skills toward helping others and becomes one of the foremost mapmakers for the Underground Railroad. Taking cues from Slave Quilt codes, she hides maps within her paintings as the United States moves toward a bloody civil war.

Over one hundred and fifty years later, Eden Anderson, a modern-day woman struggling to conceive a child, moves into an old house in West Virginia as a last-ditch effort to save her marriage and start a family. When she stumbles across part of an old porcelain doll in the root cellar, Eden slowly uncovers a dramatic connection to the Underground Railroad.

McCoy, whose novel The Baker's Daughter was a nominee for the 2012 Goodreads Choice Award for Best Historical Fiction, spent three years researching the Brown family history. This research became the basis for her inventive narrative, one in which McCoy honorably portrays the spirit of the real Sarah Brown and imagines her ties to the fictional Eden. Skillfully plotted and magnificently transporting, THE MAPMAKER'S CHILDREN highlights the power of community and legacy, illustrating the ways in which history and destiny are interconnected on one enormous, intricate map.

Purchase Links

My Review
What a fascinating premise for a novel!   The Mapmaker's Children has several features that I especially love in a book.

First, it is beautifully detailed historical fiction, and I feel that I learned from reading this book.  Although I found the subjects of John Brown, the Underground Railroad, and cartography interesting, I knew very little about these topics before reading The Mapmaker's ChildrenThe historical details in this book are fascinating.

Second, it is a dual timeline novel.  It takes place in the past and also in the present.  Sarah McCoy handled this seamlessly.  I really cared about the characters of Sarah and Eden, and love how their stories worked together in this novel.

Third, it is beautifully written.  The descriptions were vivid, the characterizations were multi-dimensional, and I found myself absorbed in the story, staying up past my bedtime to see what happened next.  This is my first read by Sarah McCoy, and it will not be my last.

I enthusiastically recommend The Mapmaker's Children for other fans of historical fiction.  You are in for an enjoyable and engrossing read! 

Author Bio
SARAH McCOY is the New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling author of the 2012 Goodreads Choice Award for Best Historical Fiction nominee The Baker's Daughter as well as The Time It Snowed in Puerto Rico and the novella "The Branch of Hazel" in Grand Central. She has taught English writing at Old Dominion University and at the University of Texas at El Paso. She calls Virginia home but presently lives with her husband and their dog, Gilly, in El Paso, Texas.

Sarah enjoys connecting with her readers on Twitter at @SarahMMcCoy, on her Facebook Fan Page or via her website,

I received this book from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.  


Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

This is definitely my kind of read, mixing historical detail into a fascinating story. Thanks for being a part of the tour!

trish said...

It's always nice when the pieces of a book (characters, writing, setting) all come together perfectly!