In Carnival of Time, Alan MacRaffen has created a fully realized world in the near future where oceans have swallowed the coastlines and lowlands, tro...moreIn Carnival of Time, Alan MacRaffen has created a fully realized world in the near future where oceans have swallowed the coastlines and lowlands, tropical jungles overrun the ruins of cities, and dinosaurs once again walk the earth. The promise of an inventive setting delivers time and again, not only allowing for an unfamiliar landscape but new species and technological paradigms to be explored.
MacRaffen shows great acumen as a world-builder, and his action scenes are tense, well-described, and not at all overwhelming to the narrative. He's clearly working from a large knowledge base with regard to prehistoric creatures, and manages to meld the science of their anatomy and behavior with fantasy in a way that's rarely explored in fiction. If there's one criticism, it's that the author leaves behind fascinating characters and scenery with massive storytelling potential in service to the story of Caleb, a personally unremarkable but archetypal protagonist, and his stock accompanying "hero's journey" narrative. This has the unfortunate consequence of leaving readers wondering why we weren't treated to a meatier story given all that this lush post-apocalyptic scenario has to offer.
That being said, although the plot lacks a certain amount of innovation, Carnival of Time is nevertheless a worthy read for a juvenile or young adult audience, and a charming first effort from self-published author MacRaffen. After getting a taste of Carnival and its world of sunken cities, dinosaur hybrids, and half-remembered radio songs, one longs to see MacRaffen step out of familiar, well-charted waters and sink his teeth into a narrative worthy of his own considerable imagination. Perhaps one of the best things about Carnival of Time isn't its setting or its strong supporting cast; it's the promise of more to come from an author whose best work is clearly ahead of him. (less)