The ageless water witch Arahab has been scheming for eons, gathering the means to awaken the great Leviathan. She aims to bring him and the old gods back to their former glory, caring little that their ascendance will also mean an end to the human race. However, awakening the Leviathan is no small feat. In fact, Arahab can't complete the ritual without human aid. Arahab's first choice is José Gaspar, a notorious sea pirate from eighteenth-century Spain. But when the task proves too difficult for Gaspar, she must look elsewhere, biding her time until the 1930's, when the ideal candidate shows up: a slightly deranged teenager named Bernice.
Bernice is sophisticated, torn from New York and forced to spend a miserable summer on Anna Maria Island, a tiny rock off the coast of Florida. She's also been saddled with the companionship of her farm-raised cousin Nia. Eventually, Bernice's disenchantment gives way to rage and she commits a deadly crime. When Nia won't cover for Bernice, she turns on Nia, chasing her into the deadly coastal waves.
But the elementals have better ideas: the moment the girls go under, Bernice is commandeered for Arahab's task force, and Nia is turned into a strange and powerful creature by a servant of the earth who doesn't want to surrender his green fields and muddy plainsnot yet, at least. Add in a hapless fire inspector who's just trying to get his paperwork in order, a fire god whose neutrality has been called into question, and a bizarre religious cult, and rural Florida doesn't seem quite so sleepy anymore.
With Fathom, Cherie Priest brings her masterful writing and unforgettable characterization to the realm of near-contemporary rural fantasy. The result is fast-paced, stunning, and quite unlike anything you've ever read.
|Publisher:||Tom Doherty Associates|
|Edition description:||First Edition|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.20(d)|
About the Author
Cherie Priest debuted to great acclaim with Four and Twenty Blackbirds, Wings to the Kingdom, and Not Flesh Nor Feathers, a trilogy of Southern Gothic ghost stories featuring heroine Eden Moore. She is also the author of Dreadnought and Boneshaker, which was nominated for a Nebula and Hugo Award, won the Locus Award for best science-fiction novel, and was named Steampunk Book of the Year by steampunk.com. Born in Tampa, Florida, Priest earned her master's in rhetoric at the University of Tennessee. She lives in Seattle, Washington, with her husband, Aric, and a fat black cat named Spain.
Read an Excerpt
By Cherie Priest, Liz Gorinsky
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 2008 Cherie Priest
All rights reserved.
Lake Wales, Florida
It's as if you've asked me to build an ark. Only this ... this is even stranger. It's not that I don't believe you, and obviously it's not the money."
Edward shielded his eyes against the gleaming, glaring afternoon sun. Below the hill where he stood, the scorched gray-green tops of live oaks and winged elms stretched as far as he could see in every direction. Here and there, the view was pocked with low, swampy places and trailing streams of tepid water thick with algae.
"It's just this place. And I should tell you," he continued, "this is the highest point on the peninsula. Can you believe that? This little mound is as high as the landscape ever climbs away from the ocean."
He rubbed at the grass with the shiny black toe of his shoe, pushing past the topsoil and into the gritty red dirt just beneath it. "But you say this isn't clay? It looks like clay. Except ..." He jabbed at a clod and it disintegrated like sand. "Except it's awfully dry. And that color, it's much redder than clay."
The broken clod looked like an injury, there on the ground.
"It isn't clay," his companion said. "It's iron."
Edward nodded. "Iron," he echoed. "Through and through. A small mountain made of it, and God knows why. But this is the place, you say?"
"This is the place. Build it here, as tall as the earth will stand it. Send it into the sky. Make it a sanctuary."
Edward tugged at his collar, wiping at the sweat he found underneath it. He gazed across the landscape and then back down at his feet. He did not look over his shoulder. It was one thing to hear that voice made of gravel and mulch; it was another thing to see the speaker, both oddly shaped and terribly misshapen.
Edward found it easier to listen than to look. "And you'll be here? You'll stay here, I mean?"
"I'll stay, and I'll watch. I'll wait in your sanctuary."
"I like the sound of that, yes. A sanctuary. I'll buy out the land as far as we can see from this point, and we'll reshape it. I know a man who does great work with landscaping." Edward was warming to the idea, building momentum as he pushed it around in his head. "We'll make it into a proper garden. We'll plant orchards. We'll have birds, and butterflies, and how do you feel about swans? We should have at least a pair of them. There's plenty of water to keep them happy, and we could import fish, too. Do you like fish?"
For a long moment, there was no answer. "It depends."
Edward was afraid that he'd asked an inappropriate question, but his escort did not offer a formal objection or complaint. "Well, all of that — the fish, the swans — it's all a ways off yet. This will take several years, if not longer."
"A man with your resources should be able to speed things up considerably."
"Money can accomplish only so much. You're talking about tons upon tons of stone and metal. I'll need to hire workers, arrange for the transport of materials, and contact my friend the landscaper — and that will only be the beginning. I'll do my best, I assure you. But I'm only human," he said. "Perhaps there's something that you could ..."
"I'll assist you any way I can. But my abilities are better suited to breaking things down than building them up."
"But there are others like you, aren't there? Is there someone else who can help?" Edward had always wanted to know, and here was a perfect window for asking.
His companion laughed, and it was a bitter, raspy sound. "Yes and no. There are none who would answer any call of mine, if that's what you want to know. The ones who remain despise me. I chose this exile because I was tired of their scorn. I was exhausted by their contempt, and I would rather bury myself in the Iron Mountain than endure it another day."
Edward Bok did not know how to respond. It had been several years since he'd first met his strange friend, and in that time he'd rarely heard anything so revealing or personal. He was acutely aware that he knew precious little about the creature that stood behind him.
But he was not a stupid man, and he'd inferred a thing or two. He'd gathered that the creature was alone, and that it was angry. He'd surmised that it was very old, and that it was suffering terribly as a result of some punishment. But the thing was selective about the questions it answered, and Edward had grown careful about what he asked.
"Exile," Edward repeated, wondering how best to ask more.
"They won't come after me here, if that's what's bothering you."
Edward shook his head. "No, I'm not worried. I trust you."
"Why is that?"
"I beg your pardon?" Edward wanted to turn around, but only shifted his head to peer over his shoulder.
"Why would you trust me?"
"Do I have a choice?"
"Everyone has a choice. You have more at your fingertips than most people do."
"Because of the money?" Edward frowned. "I do my best to share the wealth. I build libraries and fund schools. I —"
"Don't defend your expenditures to me. I'm not your god, and not your accountant. I don't care where or how you spend your funds, so long as we agree in this one great venture."
"We agree," Edward said quickly. "Of course we do. I gave you my word, didn't I? I'll build your tower, and I'll cast your bells. I'll make your sanctuary according to whatever directions you see fit to give me."
"Don't do it for me, you ridiculous man. Do it for yourself, and for your children and grandchildren. You have a grandchild now, yes?"
"I have two."
"That's twice the reason to build the tower, then. You're building it for them, and for everyone else you love. You're preparing to save the world, Bok. Don't behave as if you're doing me a favor."
Edward withdrew a handkerchief from his pocket and used it to swab his forehead. The air was dense with humidity, and the sun felt too close; it cooked the sweat on his face and seared pink burns into his skin. "I didn't intend it that way. I only wonder, sometimes, why you're going to the trouble."
From behind him, there came the muffled crackling noise of rocks being tumbled in sand. And when he finally twisted on his heels to look, he saw no one and nothing there.
"All right," he told himself. "I'll get started."
* * *
He began by purchasing fifty acres, including the Iron Mountain itself. He declared his intention to create a wildlife preserve; he arranged for the pipe-work and water system installation, and imported nourishing topsoil by the ton. The iron-rich sand and dirt could hold only so much life, and it had to be supplemented. The landscaper, Frederick Olmsted, would not even visit the site until that much had been prepared.
In 1924, once the groundwork had been established, Olmsted came down from Massachusetts with an army of gardeners, stocked with native and imported flora of every stripe. He believed deeply in conservation, and he applauded Bok's plans.
Mr. Olmsted also wanted to save the world.
The landscape architect plotted the grounds, set down trails, and laid out the gardens. He arranged the oaks, pines, and geometrically styled orange groves. He planted date and sabal palms, papyrus, creeping fig, and hollies. Wafting up through the clattering ruckus of construction and digging came the sweet, light scent of jasmine and camellias.
So when the land had been cleared, and the pipes had all been laid, and the gardens were under way, Bok turned his attention to the sanctuary's centerpiece: the Singing Tower. His friend Milton Medary designed it.
Medary drew his inspiration from the best of art deco and Gothic overindulgence. He looked to the great European cathedrals and he liked what he saw there; he wondered how it might be shaped to better fit the heat, the sun, and the shifting, sandy earth of the peninsula.
He brought cream and lavender marble from Italy and pink coquina from St. Augustine by the cartload, by the truckload, by any kind of load that would carry it deep into central Florida, through heat that could bake or kill anything that breathed.
It wasn't easy. It wasn't quick.
Foot by foot, year by year, the ornate tower stretched itself up to the clouds.
While the tower grew, and while the gardens sprawled, and while tidy rows of orchards were groomed around the Iron Mountain, sixty great bells were cast in bronze. Shaped like cups and designed to work with a special clavier, the bells ranged in size from sixteen pounds to twelve tons.
The largest bell could have hidden a horse.
* * *
On February 1, 1929, Calvin Coolidge dedicated the property as Edward Bok's "gift for the visitation of the American people." The ceremony was well attended and highly publicized, but only one spectator watched from the very top of the carillon.
It watched in silence, and in pain. The bells burned its skin, and the noise of the crowd made its head itch. But it watched, and it was pleased with the results.
* * *
Less than a year later, Edward Bok died. He was buried at the foot of the tower, directly in front of the big brass door, in accordance with his final request.CHAPTER 2
The Orchard and the Island
According to Marjorie's letter, her daughter, Bernice, was not adjusting very well to the move. Marjorie was aware that Bernice and Nia had barely seen each other in recent years, but since they were cousins — and almost the same age — they might enjoy each other's company for a few months.
And wouldn't Nia like a break from working in the orchard?
She could come out to the island, where the new house was only a few yards from the beach. She could have her own room, and swim at her leisure. She and Bernice could even catch the ferry over to Tampa and see the Gasparilla parade if they liked. The city was not so far away.
Nia's mother and grandmother balked at the idea, but Nia was tired of climbing ladders and picking oranges like a field hand. A sunny beach on a distant island sounded like a much better way to spend the summer than working for free on the family farm; and anyway, she was eighteen and she could go if she wanted to.
She didn't remember much about her cousin. When she thought on Bernice's name, all she could muster was a memory of someone small and fast with curly blond hair and a smile that could cut glass.
She knew that her cousin was beautiful, and that she'd been living in New York ever since Marjorie had remarried ten years earlier. She knew that her cousin was a little "wild," or so her grandmother said with a tight little grimace bunched at the side of her mouth.
"Marjorie lets Neecy run too fast. She doesn't keep that girl close enough," Grandmother declared during the living room gossip session that began as soon as Marjorie's letter had been read by everyone present. "She's never whooped the girl, not even once ... and Bernice has deserved it plenty more than once. Lord help me, but it's true. If she came up here instead of tempting Nia down south, I'd do it myself. Better late than never."
"She's too big for that now, Momma," Nia's mother said. She twisted her lips around the sewing pins she held there while she worked. "She's a couple years older than Nia, even."
"She isn't too big to beat. She's just too far away."
Nia held the envelope hard in her fist. "I want to go," she said. "Aunt Marjorie invited me, and I want to do it. It sounds like a nice house they're building, right on the beach."
Grandmother grunted and said, "I'm sure it's real nice. Marjorie's married money both times."
Nia's mother pulled a pin out of her mouth and folded it into the skirt she was rehemming. She mumbled around the remaining pins, "Nothing wrong with falling in love with a rich man."
"No, but she could've picked one who wasn't a crook."
"What's that mean?" Nia asked. She squinted down at the letter, which she was fairly certain contained no mention of her uncle Antonio being a crook.
"He's a Yankee — and an Italian, to boot," her mother said with teasing cheer. "Your grandmother thinks they're all a bunch of crooks."
"No," she argued. "Not all of them. But this one in particular, yes. He's a crook, and a carpetbagger, too."
Nia's hands were going sweaty around the bunched letter in its crushed envelope. "I don't care if he's so crooked, he's got to screw his socks on every morning. I want to go. And I'm going to."
Grandmother spoke around Nia, as if she weren't there. "Marjorie's let that girl go native, too. She's practically a Yankee herself now. She'll be a terrible influence on yours, I'm telling you. If I were you, I wouldn't let her go."
"You can't make me stay," Nia insisted.
"I can't really make her stay," her mother agreed, talking to Grandmother past Nia's head, "if she wants to go. We could use the help, but I think we'll be all right. It might be good for her — getting out of town, doing a little traveling. You used to like traveling, Momma."
"I'd enjoy it now, if I didn't have a grove to run. Last time I traveled anywhere was with your daddy, back when that one" — she cocked a thumb at Nia — "was just learning to read. But that's neither here nor there. I still don't like Marjorie's tone in that letter."
"What's wrong with her tone?" Nia demanded.
"It's bribery — that's what she's doing," Grandmother answered. "She's trying to bribe you with her money, and with the way she lives. She's tempting you with how you won't have to work, and you can swim in the ocean like a little heathen if you want, and you can stay in her nice big new house over there ... like what you've got here at home isn't just as good."
Nia's mother shook her head. "I don't think she means any of it like that."
"Maybe she don't. But that's how it reads to me. Go on down then, if that's what you want, girl. We'll get along without you, if you want to spend the season getting picked on and run ragged by that wild girl. She's older than you, and she's been around a lot more, and she's not going to let you forget it. Bernice didn't write that note, and I promise you she didn't ask her mother to write it, either."
* * *
Grandmother's words were still humming in Nia's ears when she finally arrived on Anna Maria Island, a small strip of sand that jutted into the ocean, south of Tampa.
After a long trip by truck, by train, and by ferry, a servant escorted her to the brand-new house at the edge of the beach. After he left her, she made her way into the courtyard behind the house, where two women were shouting at each other.
Nia poked her head around the wall's edge and flinched as a plate shattered just a foot or two away from it.
"Hello?" She used the quiet word to announce her presence, and it almost didn't work; but Marjorie spied her niece and threw up her hands as if someone were pointing a gun at her.
The brunette woman in the tailored white suit smiled spontaneously, and stiffly. "There you are! Welcome, dear. I'm so glad you came. I assume Roger took your things to the cottage. ... Did you have any trouble finding us?"
"Oh, no," she said, and she resisted the urge to add that she'd found her way by following the racket. Nia tiptoed into the yard to give her aunt a hug. "Roger's directions were good. And Bernice, it's real good to see you again, too," she said to the sharply dressed, blondly curled beauty with a fistful of expensive porcelain.
"Bernice," Marjorie said through clenched teeth. "Nia is your guest. Say hello."
"My guest? I didn't invite her."
Marjorie pried the bit of china from her daughter's hand and set it back on the long covered table before Bernice could throw it. "Yes, I know, but it's been a long time since you've seen each other. Since ... since your grandfather's funeral, I think. Or no, we all went to Gasparilla that next year, didn't we?" The last part came out thoughtful, as she tried to count back the years.
But then she turned to Bernice and her voice dropped. She breathed the next part in an exhausted whine, and underneath it, Nia could almost hear a long-buried accent that sounded like her mother's. "Just for now, please? Let it go. Take Nia over to the cottage and help her get settled in."
Bernice liked the begging well enough to release the remaining plates, but even Nia could see that her truce was a temporary arrangement. "Fine," she said. She relaxed and folded her arms across an expensive ivory suit jacket. "And hello, Nia. So Roger took your things to the cottage already? I'm ever so glad we won't be forced to carry them in this dreadful heat."
Nia stepped aside and let Bernice take the lead. "Yes, your father's assistant took care of it. He met me at the ferry."
"My step father's assistant." She casually lifted another glass and smashed it into the wall as she walked past it.
Excerpted from Fathom by Cherie Priest, Liz Gorinsky. Copyright © 2008 Cherie Priest. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Contents1 Lake Wales, Florida,
2 The Orchard and the Island,
3 Why They Call It That,
4 Bedtime Stories of the Gods,
5 The Cocoon,
6 The Exposition of Songs,
7 Of Sharks and Pirates,
8 The Exposition of Evidence,
9 The Exposition of Monsters,
10 Captiva Island,
11 Holes and Hideaways,
12 Where Water Meets Stone,
13 Being Ware of Wishes,
14 May the Circle Be Unbroken,
15 The Promise of Peril,
16 Found Objects and Stolen Machines,
17 Over the Waves,
18 Getaway and Gone,
19 What You Pray For,
20 Beginner's Luck,
21 Wet Away from the Water,
22 The Whistle at the End of the Earth,
23 Of Plots and Promises,
24 Chance Encounters,
25 Hell and High Water,
26 To the Water's Edge,
27 Drawbacks of Rescue,
28 Determining Differences,
29 East, into the Center,
30 When Next Time Comes,
31 Subterranean Advent,
32 After Dreaming,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This novel was quite unlike anything I’ve read before. Cherie Priest quickly became one of my favorite authors with her Clockwork Century series. I breezed through Boneshaker, Clementine and Dreadnought, and loved them all. That said, this work by Priest is an entirely different beast from those novels. However, it is worth mentioning that it is still undeniably Priest. The styling is masterful, and her great skill at story-crafting makes the book an interesting and enjoyable read. Having always been a bit of a mythology geek, I very much liked the idea of the gods, goddesses, and the like. Crafting a story about these beings into one about Florida takes skill, and Priest manages it more than capably. One of my favorite things about this book is that, near the end, all of the many story threads and arcs come together to form a nice, neat close. As I reader, I enjoy the realizations of “oh, that’s why the that happened the way it did!” I would recommend this novel to readers who enjoy fantasy, particularly if they enjoy urban fantasy, dark fantasy, and a heaping dose of mythology.
Fathom is one of those books that starts right off the bat creepy. Priest's gift for putting you on edge is very evident in this book. I must have muttered ' Oh Oh' at least ten times in the first 50 pages of Fathom. A departure from the Eden Moore series, Priest's well honed story telling skills are top notch in Fathom..And seriously old gods, sea monters and witches...What's not to like?
One of my favorite authors. Bernice and Nia are cousins, both reluctantly on a humid island in 1920's Florida. Bernice is dark and malevolent, Priest fleshing out an unrepentently evil person (who reminds me of high school mean girls). Nia is drawn into Bernice's evil against her will and unknowingly into a battle of the earth's elementals. Water, Fire, Earth, and Wind. A motley crew, including Sam the insurance adjustor, Jose the 120 year old pirate, and Mossfeaster (my favorite) help Nia in her efforts to try and stop the Water Witch from awakening the Leviathin. Fast-paced, with lots of twists and turns.
Starts out dark like a Tanith Lee, but doesn't maintain the darkness. Still quite enjoyable, and come to a satisfying conclusion where lee's later books do not.
I picked up this book because I really enjoyed Priest's Eden Moore series. That also meant I hadn't read anything about it -- including reviews or the inside cover summary. So, it was much to my surprise when I realized this book wasn't the horror story/ghost story that I had expected. Instead, it was something rather different and quite awesome. Priest tells us one story from multiple points of view. While in other books this might be tedious, it was not for Fathom. Instead, we learn to love the different characters, even when they do things we don't understand/agree with. I think this was what made the story so good. Instead of just focusing on a third person omniscient narrator or a single, first person point of view, we got variations on both of those. What Priest created was a stunning story set in a world not unlike our own, while at the same time, altogether different. She draws on unknown (including, though not necessarily central to the plot, ghosts) as main characters who are in a battle to save the human race. Priest does not shy away from heartache, violence and death, and that is one of the things that makes this book so good.
Water witches are ambitious folk, always climbing that corporate witch ladder, not above dirty little tricks to get a rung up. Like putting two tons of water witch keister in the face of an earth witch reaching for the same rung, or repeatedly stomping on the knuckles of a fire elemental; only briefly satisfied when they¿ve finally been promoted to President of Evil Doings. The Head Honcho of Hell on Earth, the big fish in an evil ocean.And once minted in their new corporate top-dog position, with their high-tech ergonomic faux leather chair, and eager minions who salivate way too much¿that¿s when they go for the big Evil, the one that shakes things up. The kind of Evil that ruins the world for the rest of us, the little people. And they cackle, maliciously, while doing it, like a scheming investment banker huddling over spreadsheets.Stepping into the Chief Evil Doer role in Cherie Priest¿s excellent novel ¿Fathom¿ is Arahab, water witch and bane of humanity. See Arahab has a plan, an ambitious plan, one that humanity isn¿t going to like very much. Since it means their complete and utter destruction. But she needs help pulling it off; someone to do the legwork for her. Someone who can actually walk across the land, and isn¿t confined to bodies of water. Can¿t get much evil accomplished if you¿re stuck in a swimming pool. So she needs minions. Evil minions. Quicker than you can say winged monkeys, an opportunity arises. Two girls, cousins, running along the beach, crash into the surf. Into her world. One cousin Arahab will choose, one she¿ll leave behind. To be unexpectedly chosen by another.Cherie Priest¿s ¿Those Who Went Remain There Still¿ was an incredible surprise, a three-ton jack-in-the-box of a novel, and an introduction to a new and unique voice in the genre. A voice so impressive it immediately plunged me into a mini-Cherie Priest bender. A lost weekend of fantasy/horror debauchery spent splashing around in delicious southern-flavored monster stories, consuming ¿Fathom¿ as if it came packaged in dime bags. This is the good stuff.Priest¿s novels are familiar, but unique. How? Imagine Greek mythology¿the terrible monsters roaming the land; the larger-than-life gods, always bickering, always meddling, trying to get a leg up on their rival deity, using ignorant humans to accomplish their ends. Now beer-batter that Greek mythology up, coat it real good, maybe give it a dash of Gothic seasoning, and throw it in some sizzling grease. And fry it up¿Kentucky style. That¿s Deep South mythology. That¿s ¿Fathom.¿ That¿s Cherie Priest. She¿s Neil Gaiman¿if Neil Gaiman wrote about hillbillies, and the monsters that burp them up. ¿Fathom¿ feels short, almost a tease, to the point where the characters still have an air of mystery afterwards. They still have hidden layers to reveal, their exposure far from complete, a few clothing articles short of a Full Monty. It¿s like a charming dinner party conversation, brief but utterly engaging, almost addictively so. A tantalizing slice of life of the most interesting person you can imagine. You desire to know more, to see more, and to go beyond the introductory chit-chat. To hear other stories. Please¿you beg¿more. The end bringing only one question: then what happens?Last Word:Cherie Priest has quickly become one of my favorite writers for her ability to deliver unique and engaging stories; stories that embody a Southern-flavored mythos, about country bumpkins and the things that bump them back. It¿s one half Greek mythology, one half Southern Comfort; the resulting concoction percolated out of some backwater still. It¿s both exciting, and scary. Like moonshine from Hell. Because one taste can change you forever. ¿Fathom¿ exemplifies this, proudly; chin high up in the air. Taste it. It¿s worth it.
This novel is more dark fantasy than the Gothic-type horror I've seen from Cherie Priest, but it was still pretty weird and fantastic and a wee bit creepy. Nia, who lives in the country and works on her grandmother's farm, goes to visit her sophisticated cousin Beatrice in Florida. Beatrice hates Florida (she usually lives in New York). And she hates her stepfather. A lot. And she's not too sure about Nia for that matter. So when a tragedy occurs, and Nia refuses to help cover it up, a chase ensues. As the result of that chase, Bernice is taken into the realm of Arahab the water witch, who wants to waken Leviathan and cover the world with water. And of course it falls to Nia to prevent this.Some quite unusual characters, especially Mossfeaster, who I really loved. And I love the way Priest writes. I have yet to be disappointed by one of her books.
Typically, I love the atmosphere and world-building that Cherie Priest does. Not so much here, for me it fell quite a bit flatter than anything I've read so far (by her). Nia goes to meet her cousin Berenice. During this 1st visit, Nia sees her kill her stepfather and has to run when Berenice tries to kill her too. Both girls run into the water, Nia hoping to escape. But...the water-witch takes Berenice and Nia rejects the witch, yet is saved by another elemental who remakes her into a statue (for a time). Time goes by. Eventually both girls are set loose to do what their creators wanted them to do: destroy (Berenice)/save (Nia)the world. I thought it sounded pretty exciting when I read the back of the book, but honestly it comes out slow and a bit muddied at times - a far cry from previous Priest efforts. If you haven't read Priest before, don't start here. If you have and you just want to see what the book is like, be warned - I found it to be sorely lacking (vs. other works).
For an unknown purpose, a sort of earth elemental convinces a man to build a tower in a specific place. In pursuit of a way to awaken her father (Levithan), a kind of water goddes takes a drowning girl and changes her into something new. The girl's cousin is turned into a statue and set in a garden near the shore for reasons which we don't find out until much later.The book follows a number of different threads and it's not obvious until far into the story how they relate and who is good or bad.Actually, it's never entirely clear, but if I were a human living in that world, I know who I would want to win.It's rare to find a book where not having answers is as fascinating as having them would be. But in this book, in which very little has concrete explanations and most of the characters aren't human (even if they once were), the story is more important than the explanations, and I loved it.
I read this book in one sitting, too engrossed to remember the tea I'd left steeping or that (for the first thirty minutes) I should probably sit down. I've read Four and Twenty Blackbirds, also by Cherie Priest, and it was good, but it was nowhere near as good as this.This book makes me want to geek out in so many ways. It's a story that clearly references myths and mythical characters, but itself follows many of the elements of myths; the cyclic nature, the importance of kin, the notion of family (both inclusion into and exile from), and duty, and rebirth, and transformation. At the same time, though, it's a rather grim tale of saving the world, and not the kind of saving the world where the hero is armed with magical swords and is foretold by prophecy.Mrs. Priest, I'll be buying more. You've impressed me.As an aside, someone on Amazon commented that this work is much like Tim Powers's books, which is so very much true; this is like an inverted version of Last Call.
Priest has reallly captured the lovecraftian universe in this wondetfully dark and terrifying book. I was seriously staying up way too late just to spend more time with this book! I love the way she uses the lovecraftian mythos to tie Fathom and Maplecroft together. Definately a must read for any fan of the lovecraftian universe!