“Carousel Seas” – In Which the Pace Matches Maine Life

carouselseasCarousel Seas by Sharon Lee
Baen: January 6, 2015 (Fantasy)*

The view was nice, but the food was bad vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3

Over the course of this trilogy, I have felt less and less satisfied with the details of life in a small Maine town, working a carousel at an amusement park, and getting along with all the natives, in human and other forms. This is not the fault of the story, of the details themselves, but belongs more to the pacing of the novel. This month, I appear to be looking for more fast-paced books with more action in them, and less description. The plot moves along so slowly that it doesn’t grab my attention. A note here: the pacing adds another dimension to the setting, since it reflects a slower pace of life. The language, too, is very “Maine,” and I think these added features really do help to bring the setting to life.

The relationships between many of the residents of Archer’s Beach are varied and complex, which is unsurprising given the small size of this relatively close-knit community. I particularly enjoyed the introduction of the rogue cat community to this narration. In all of her books, Sharon Lee captures the essence of cats in a very entertaining and insightful way. The relationship between Borgan and Kate is one of the most self-aware ones I have come across, with each understanding the other (although perhaps Borgan is better at this than Kate), and making conscious decisions to succeed at the relationship, even against natural inclinations (Kate’s, as she is more reluctant than Borgan to be involved with someone).

The magic system works very well. It is very thoroughly integrated with the world, based in nature as it is, and limiting magical creatures to their natural habitats that provide magical sustenance. The multiple worlds always remind me of Katamari Damacy, a video game where the son of the King of All Cosmos is charged with traveling around the universe to roll up enough material to rebuild the stars. As inaccurate as that may be.

This is a good book. I may have enjoyed it more if I had been reading it without a number of other books on my to-read list, or if I had been reading it without trying to review it. Simply put, it was not to my taste at this time.

Many readers will like it, enjoy the more measured unfolding of the story, and delight in the little details that really bring Maine culture to life. I appreciated all those things, but could not maintain my interest with the pace of the plot development.

*Advance copy provided by the publisher via Edelweiss

Similar Reads

The Agent of Hel series by Jacqueline Carey feels a lot like the Archer’s Beach series. Both take place in small towns defined by nearby bodies of water. Both feature unusual heroines with magical powers that set them apart and put them in unique positions to protect and defend their communities. Start with Dark Currents.

Deadly Curiosities is about vampires and demons, so it feels darker than Carousel Seas, but as with the latter, it brings a small piece of our modern United States into sharp focus and combines it with believable fantastical creatures.

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