The Last Mapmaker

By Christina Soontornvat

From the visionary author of two 2021 Newbery Honor Books, comes a high-seas adventure set in a Thai-inspired fantasy world.

A young woman struggles to unburden herself of the past and chart her own destiny in a world of secrets. As assistant to Mangkon’s most celebrated mapmaker, 12-year-old Sai plays the part of a well-bred young lady with a glittering future. In reality, her father is a low-life conman – and the truth could ruin her. Sai seizes the chance to join an expedition to chart the southern seas, but she isn’t the only one aboard with secrets. When Sai learns that the ship is heading for the fabled Sunderlands – a land of dragons, dangers and riches beyond imagining – she must weigh the cost of her dreams. A compelling and suspenseful middle-grade fantasy adventure.

Categories: Fiction

For readers aged: 9+

  • Publication details:
  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 9781529511833
  • Published: 04 May 2023
  • Price: £7.99
  • Size: 198 x 129 mm
  • Pages: 320

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Customer reviews


'Exploits on the high seas and complex characters combine in a tale full of both excitement and heart. An engrossing adventure with the feeling of a whole world to be explored.' Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

'Soontornvat deftly discusses themes of colonization and “discovery,”. . . Employing a presumed Asian cast of well-developed crew members with various skin tones and plenty of emotional depth, this high seas adventure deftly explores complex power dynamics and class hierarchies while maintaining a fast-paced clip.' Publishers Weekly (starred review)

'All along, Soontornvat (a Newbery honoree for “A Wish in the Dark”) skillfully uses tropes to throw us off. Introduce a young, woebegone heroine questing after a flying monster for glory and the reader can’t help chasing the dragon with her.' The New York Times Book Review

'Action drives the narrative forward, creating a real page-turner with intriguing characters. . . Blending Age of Sail historical fiction, adventure, and fantasy within a Thai-inspired setting, this original novel will leave readers hoping for sequels.' Booklist

'Class structure, imperial greed, and environmental ravages underpin the narrative arc of this fantastical adventure story, resonating with our own contemporary issues. At the same time, Soontornvat’s Thai-inspired culture and geography provide a vivid backdrop. With emphasis on an intricate plot and quick, accessible prose, Soontornvat provides plenty of excitement while bringing questions of expansionism and de-colonization to young readers.' The Horn Book

'For a rousing middle grade adventure filled with scrappy young characters taking control of their own destinies, seek out this latest offering from Christina Soontornvat. . . . This title allows readers to practically smell the salty sea air and feel the creak of wood under their feet as they search the unfolding horizon for land alongside Sai. Even the cover is compelling. . . Students will enjoy exploring the themes of family, fate, and redemption through Sai.' School Library Connection

'A gutsy young apprentice sails off the edge of the map in this bold, high-stakes fantasy adventure. . . The high action factor and hints at possible dragon appearances makes The Last Mapmaker a solid bet to draw a middle-grade audience, and subtle themes of anti-imperialism and environmental preservation add an appealing social message. . . . This bighearted, moving tale of finding one's place and living by a moral compass is eminently seaworthy and set in a rich, thoughtfully built world.' Shelf Awareness

'The Last Mapmaker is a work of art. It is an absolute phenomenon. […] I think that this novel deserves to be pride of place on all bookshelves and that it is suitable for ages 10+. This was an extremely fast paced, action-filled book that I truly enjoyed.' Kids Book Reviews, Books Up North

'Utterly compelling adventuring on the high seas: full of surprise twists and a fair few betrayals, with a diverse cast of complex characters, Soontornvat has constructed a tight plot full of wonderful descriptions – you can almost smell the brine – with undertones of colonialism and environmental issues. Strongly recommended for older readers especially those who love unusual fantasies and a protagonist determined to chart her own course through life.' Red Reading Hub

'This is a wonderfully evocative story that really makes you believe in the world that has been created. […] This story is a delightful exploration of culture and a world that is exotic and yet very relatable, with a set of characters that you really begin to feel close to.' Books for Keeps

'The Last Mapmaker is a wonderful story of identify, ambition, and courage.' The School Librarian

'This heartwarming story highlights bravery, identity and friendship found in unlikely places.' Reading Matters Guide 2023

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