Katharine Kimbriel's Reviews > Carousel Tides

Carousel Tides by Sharon Lee
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Jan 06, 11

it was amazing
bookshelves: contemporary-fantasy
Read from November 06 to 09, 2010

Finally! The book I have been waiting for since...whoa, since War for the Oaks or the last Charles de Lint I got my hands on (Someplace to Be, I think.) Come with me to Archers Beach, a tiny Maine coastal village which has barely hung on during the tourist season the past ten years or so. It’s an old place, full of fog and three-story, peeling tupelo wood cottages that once held large families and now are partitioned for multiple renters and small stores. There’s a pier that seasonally runs rides and games of chance, with a roller coaster shaped like a dragon and a carousel that could do guest appearances in a Ray Bradbury story.

Kate Archer has been in self-imposed exile for a long time, but a phone call about foreclosing on the family carousel sends her back in a panic to Maine. Her grandmother, Bonny Pepperidge, not only disappeared months ago, but she first signed over the carousel, cottage, AND the family Land into Kate’s keeping. And the Land is not just ground and buildings.

Dear Kate,

If you’re reading this, things have not gone as I had hoped and expected they would. I’m afraid I’ve left you a pretty mess, my dear, and it’s yours to decide whether or not to clean up after me.

The obligations of kinship . . . of love . . . are not always easy to bear. But, there, I haven’t told you anything you didn’t learn as a babe.

If you’re reading this . . . I’m glad you came home, Katie.

All my love, Gran


The early season starts in a month – and an antique, wood carousel needs a lot of work to have it ready for the early weekend traffic. This particular carousel needs even more work, as do many things in Archers Beach. Because behind the boulders on the shore, during low tide, and under the piers -- off the bow of the lobster boats, and up on the rocky hillsides, there’s another world. More than one of them, actually, Earth being the last and least of them.

Kate Archer is the heir to power – power she feels she has misused, and so she is dying as a result of her exile. But Archers Beach doesn’t have much time. There are wards that must be strengthened, prisoners to be guarded and strangeness to be watched and defended against. She has allies she does not know, old friends she is not sure will welcome her, and a couple of enemies who might be willing to call a truce.

There are gates between the worlds, and war she fled from as a child. There are folk who can pass through those gates with ease, when they choose. Someone came to the carousel, the end of the last season, and tried to bargain with her grandmother . . . threatened her grandmother.

Threatening a dryad on her own ground isn’t wise, but the Earth spirits are among the weakest of the many trenvay who appear in this tale. (And you will be comfortable with that word, by the time it makes an appearance – and instinctively know to who and what it belongs.)

”Did you pay your respects to the sea, Kate?” she can almost hear her Gran say. Kate always pays her respects to the sea, and its denizens, from the tiny loon to the selkies. Now they tell her that the Old Woman was expected back before the New Year. And no matter which new year you used, Bonny Pepperidge has been gone too long.

Nope. That’s all the hints you get. Trust me on this one – to try and summarize it in bits and pieces is to destroy its charm. We have magic and history, we have regret and the tiny bloom of love. Magic is used in many interesting ways, and Carousel Tides belongs squarely on the Maine coast where it is planted. Before the end, you will believe in the many gates and their worlds, and you will be rooting for Kate to pull it all off and win.

In one reading, this book is seamless, the work of a master who knows what she’s doing. It’s the best fantasy Sharon Lee has done, I’ll even say her best book, and a keeper. It’s one to remember come award time. And even better – this book can stand alone for all eternity, like the rocks it is built upon, or it can carry the weight of a sequel.

If you love contemporary fantasy, if you can’t get enough of Charles de Lint’s work, if you’ve been waiting for another great fantasy – this one is for you.

I can't wait to read it again!
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Comments (showing 1-8 of 8) (8 new)

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Estara Yes, this! You say it so much better. This would make a great review for Amazon.com, too.


Katharine Kimbriel I'm going to put a condensed version up there, I think!


Estara Katharine wrote: "I'm going to put a condensed version up there, I think!"

The long version is just fine to read, it flows so well, though.

I think I'll add mine, too, even though I didn't buy it there either. BAEN has a problem of not strongly promoting their non-superbestselling authors... Then again I'm happy they've rescued so many from other failed publishers.


Katharine Kimbriel You can see if I managed to trim well for Amazon, if they put it up. It's still 400 words, which is a little more than they usually allow. I did get mine from them, so that should not be a problem. It's to their advantage to have reviews up there -- I think the not putting up non-buyer info may shoot them in the foot. I did mention it's from Goodreads, so they can't claim it all for themselves, or complain about the other review.

I think Alfreda may be too far out of Baen's comfort zone -- don't think my agent has ever tried them. As you say, they don't promote anything that isn't already selling well for them. The Liad works should do well for them, so promoting Sharon's other work also has value. At least they got blurbs for the cover -- Warner could not get around to any for the Nuala books, I had to find my own!


message 5: by Estara (last edited Nov 17, 2010 12:19PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Estara Well, he could always try anyway ^^. BAEN at least always offer the book in paper and in e and as you said there's the quotes, but their own covers are usually horrid ^^ and it's best when an author can do their own promotion very well.

I'm not sure how much they personally have promoted Liaden, but Lee and Miller have had a large online following before they went to BAEN, both Fledgling and Saltation where first financed as chapters on their korval.com websites by internet readers.

From the little bit that authors allude to, I have the impression that the female main editor, who these days is BAEN, runs the show singlehandedly apart from parcelling out copy editing and layouting, etc. I could be wrong though. I've never been a member of BAEN's bar, after all.

ETA: Yes, your review is up on Amazon, I saw it when I added mine.


Katharine Kimbriel So much for 48 hours! I put it up about an hour ago!


Estara ^^ They always write that and it's usually up much faster, hee.


Deborah Ross Me, too!


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