Thursday, January 27, 2011

Carousel Tides by Sharon Lee

I've long been a fan of Sharon Lee and Steve Millers Liaden Universe series, mainly because it contains some of the most realistic, intricate world building in existence, plus the characters are perfectly wonderful. Which is where I run into a problem writing reviews of their work. There are only so many superlatives to use when describing such finely-wrought science fiction.
Imagine my frustration, then, in trying to discuss Sharon Lees solo efforts, such as her latest, Carousel Tides, a work of dark fantasy.
I could use the old "elevator pitch" style of saying Carousel Tides combines legendary storytelling ala Ray Bradbury with characters reminiscent of David Eddings Belgariad series mingled with Lois McMaster Bujold's fast-paced plot styles and Lees own musical prose...but I'd have to assume that everyone has read all the aforementioned authors and knows what I am talking about.
How best to understand Sharon Lee's work? To paraphrase Nike, Just Read It. You will not be sorry that you did, I can guarantee that.
Carousel Tides is the story of Kate Archer, the grand daughter of elemental beings who, after repudiating her heritage as one who draws power from the earth, returns home to the Maine coast to set her grandmothers affairs in order, only to find that the Carousel she's now responsible for needs the wards on it's bewitched beings replenished, and that no one knows where her grandmother is, nor can they give her any information on the towns newest resident, who appears to be ready for a magical take over of some kind, and wants our heroine out of the way. Discussions with magical creatures, from selkies to fire elementals ensues, and though Kate and the other protagonists win the day, there are still windows left open for more stories in this mileau. I found the book engrossing and the characters fascinating, as expected with anything that Lee sets her hand to...she's a craftsperson of serious vision with a prose style that seems casual and loose, until you try to find a flaw in it, when you realize it's as smooth and flawless as finely-wrought silk.
So, I recommend this novel for fantasy fans, classics readers, those who enjoy myths and legends or fables, and those who appreciate good old fashioned storytelling done right. A solid A for Carousel Tides.