Miranda in Milan by Katharine Duckett

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“To be in this world, you must always be a little less than yourself. With every day that passes, you must give up a little more.”

After the events described in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, a fifteen-year-old Miranda arrives in Milan, but people treat her like a monster. They force her to stay in her room and make her wear a veil whenever she leaves. She wonders if she looks like a monster, although she doesn’t think she does.

Her father Prospero is physically abusive to her, although he neglects her most of the time. Despite giving up his books at the end of Shakespeare’s play, we find out he can still do magic without them.

Miranda’s love interest is one of her servants, a witch named Dorothea. (Her marriage to Ferdinand on the island wasn’t official, so she’s supposed to have an official marriage with him now that they’re back in Italy. However, she hasn’t seen Ferdinand since arriving in Milan. Did he change his mind about marrying her?)

This felt like fan fiction to me. There’s a few clumsy moments, such as when Miranda asks Dorothea why she decided to dress like a man at a costume ball moments after Dorothea already explained why. Dorothea then proceeds to give a different explanation than the one she gave before, indicating the author forgot that this question was already asked and answered. Also, Miranda sees Dorothea’s face and their foreheads touch during a scene in which both are wearing masks. There’s a scene in which a character is silenced by a spell, but screams a moment later. There’s also another scene in which Miranda wonders why Dorothea doesn’t want to be intimate with her, the author seeming to have forgotten that a third person is in the room with them.

This book does do a good job of presenting various mysteries and slowly revealing what happened. The central mystery being what happened to Miranda’s mother. Although, I must say when the horrible crime that lead to Prospero’s banishment was finally revealed, it honestly didn’t seem that bad. Also, the characters are okay with what he did by the end, so he’s not as evil of a villain as he could have been.

Prospero is certainly controlling and abusive, but he doesn’t do anything bad enough to deserve what ends up happening to him. I’m not a fan of revenge stories in general and certainly not disproportionate revenge stories in which what happens to the villain is worse than what the villain did. The ending also felt rushed. I would have liked it to be just a bit longer.

Despite my list of complaints, this book was a pleasure to read overall with a multi-layered mystery that will leave you guessing along the way.

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