I loved Carousel Tides, – see my review here – which is the start of this wonderful paranormal series, so as soon as I saw this offering on the shelves, I immediately scooped it up. Would I enjoy it as much as the first book?
Kate Archer, owner-operator of the vintage wooden carousel, is caught up in the excitement—and is quite possibly the cause of it. Because Kate leads a double life, as carny, and as Guardian of the land. Her recent return to the home she had forsaken has changed the town’s luck—for the better—and energized the trenvay—earth and water spirits who are as much citizens of the Beach as their mundane counterparts. But the town’s new energy isn’t the only change afoot. Joe Nemeier, the local drug lord, whose previous magical consultant was vanquished by Kate, has acquired a new ally—and this one plays with fire.
This book immediately picks up where the first book left off, which means the pace continues. Though if you are expecting to be whirled up into a maelstrom of non-stop action, then you need to simmer down. Lee manages to pull off the really neat trick of giving us a ringside seat into Kate’s daily life without it seeming remotely boring. We get to know what she eats, how she feels about the other residents, how well she sleeps, the weather, what her work routine is… And her feelings about Brogan. As well as gaining a fascinating insight into the struggles of a small tourist town on the Maine coast.
Why do I end up reading this apparently mundane routine in greedy vociferous gulps? Because entwined in Kate’s daily life are shafts of the paranormal activity that flitters just under the surface. It is beautifully done. For my money, no one else writes paranormal fantasy quite like Lee. The closest I can think of is Modesitt’s wonderful series, The Ghosts of Columbia, which is him at his awesome best in my opinion – see my review here.
As she narrates all the normal, everyday stuff happening in her life, the struggle with the darker forces surrounding Archer’s Beach and the political fallout regarding the other realms on the doorstep unfold. Interleaving the everyday in amongst the fantastic so completely produces a lovely fey quality to the Maine landscape.
I’ve never been there, but Lee’s world sings off the page so sharply depicted, I can taste the salt tang and smell the coffee. The consequence is that when things do kick off, there is a real sense of shock. Lee is in complete control of the narrative, so the story comes to satisfactory conclusion, while leaving a couple of plotpoints dangling for the next slice of paranormal oddness to unfold in Archer’s Beach.
Any niggles. Hm – just one… the book isn’t all that long. And I came to the end of it with a real sense of loss. I could have read more of Lee’s magical world – in fact I could have read it all day. And that’s it, really. This is a gem. And if you haven’t yet had the pleasure, go looking for Carousel Tides. This really is a special treat for those of you who like your fiction laced with magic.