Prospero in Hell
L. Jagi Lamplighter
Tor (347 pp, $25.99, August 2010)
Reviewed by David Soyka
As you might expect, L. Jagi Lamplighter’s Prospero in Hell, the second volume of her Propsero’s Daughter trilogy and follow up to Prospero Lost, is loosely based (very loosely) on Shakespeare’s The Tempest. In Lamplighter’s retelling, Miranda, daughter of the magician Prospero, does not marry Ferdinand but instead becomes the virgin devotee of the Greek goddess Eurynome, which qualifies her for a life extension and youth preserving elixir she can share with her father and eight siblings, the results of various Prospero marriages over the centuries. Until Miranda becomes a full-fledged “Sybil” of the Eurynome cult, however, there is insufficient quantity of the elixir available to share beyond her immediate family members. Consequently, the Prospero offspring who marry and have children are doomed to watch them live out their mortal lives. Except, of course, Miranda who must of necessity remain unattached as a condition to continue to receive her elixir allotment.
Flash forward to the present day and Miranda is still not a Sybil, with little idea how she is supposed to be deemed worthy. In the meantime, Miranda runs Prospero, Inc., a multinational corporation that maintains business contracts among magical entities designed to avoid “natural disasters” such as hurricanes and earthquakes these sprites would normally unleash, thus allowing human existence to continue and perfect its technological progress.