by Sharon Lee
Cover Artist: Eric L. Williams
Review by Gayle Surrette
Baen Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781439133958
Date: 02 November 2010 List Price $14.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Carousel Tides by Sharon Lee is a modern day fantasy. Kate Archer is returning home. Her grandmother is missing – no one knows where she is. Kate would rather be anywhere but at Archers Beach, in fact she'd spent the last several years as far away from the ocean and Archers Beach as she could get. But, gran was family and she'd find her and until she did, she’d have to make her peace with the land.
Kate Archer is our point of view character and we only know what she does, but she's only thinking of her grandmother, and her worry for her colors all her thoughts. Plus Kate's ill, or at least it seems that way. In fact, the story starts out as more of a mystery but very quickly, the reader gets the sense that more is going on here. At first the fantasy elements that pop up have the reader guessing that it is an urban fantasy – albeit a semi-rural one. A few more sections and you know you're in for a completely different modern fantasy than you’d been expecting. Lee never disappoints.
The story is well crafted. If you've read any of Lee's previous books or the ones that are written with Steve Miller, you know that the story is going to pull you in and not let you go until the final page. For the story is always rich in detail and so compelling that the book disappears and you find the story unfolding before your eyes. No character is just for show – they all have depth even when they only run the Fun Park and enforce rules that make no sense with no recourse. Some people are just made to frustrate us when all we want to do is our jobs.
With her grandmother unavailable, or missing, or worse, Kate needs to open the carousel and to do that she'd need to get everything cleaned, painted and polished. She'd also need to get the bindings renewed on the special rides on the carousel. Now you know that things are different, after all, how many carousels have magical bindings on the rides to keep the animals from destroying the riders –none that I’ve rode on.
With the background in place, the pace of the story picks up and all the while more information is provided for the reader. However, you can guess all you want about what's happened, or what is happening, or even what will happen but the ending will surprise you because this isn't your usual fantasy. This is how things would be if the fae world actually did impinge on our own world.
Carousel Tides is a great story that will keep you up to finish it in the wee hours, so read it on a weekend – just a suggestion. But even more it's about people and the choices they make. If character is what you are when no one is watching – would we have reacted as Kate did? Some stories just entertain but some make you think about more than what's on the page and often buried in the story is a kernel of a truth that just might make you think about how you define your actions in relation to others.
From: Joan Cheesman
This is one of the best, if not the best of Lee's writing that I have read so far, and I've read everything I can get my hands on of her, and their, published writings. Waiting eagerly for more, and a sequel, if possible, if not, anything!