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Fathom    by Cherie Priest order for
by Cherie Priest
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2008 (2008)

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* *   Reviewed by Sally Selvadurai

Cherie Priest's Fathom is an intriguing work, tapping into our base fears that perhaps there are beings controlling the various aspects of nature: earth, fire, water - much like the ancient gods worshiped by numerous societies, the Greeks, Romans, Aztecs, indigenous peoples such as the North American Indians and the aboriginals of Australia. Are all these inhuman beings still with us?

Whether human or not, both realms are inhabited by those that are good and those that are pure evil. Fathom introduces us to both human good and evil in the form of Nia, a young land girl and her malevolent, sophisticated cousin, Bernice. Nia agrees to spend some time over the summer with Bernice, her Aunt Marjorie and Marjorie's second husband, Antonio, on an isolated island on the Gulf coast of Florida. Almost immediately Bernice's absolute hatred for Antonio is evident, and Nia is witness to his brutal murder by Bernice. Realizing that she might be next, Nia dives into the sea to outdistance her cousin, who is no swimmer.

Years later both Bernice and Nia return, hugely changed, one by Arahab, the ageless water witch who would like to awaken the great Leviathan, and in so doing destroy the world. Nia has been transformed into a strange, powerful being by one of the earth elementals, who wants to prevent Arahab's schemes at all costs.

Arahab is getting closer to her ultimate goal, but is thwarted by the strange new being that is Nia - her strangeness allows her to outwit Arahab at a crucial point, giving her some extra time to make an attempt to save humankind, with some unexpected help along the way.

This book was definitely entertaining and, with its odd mixture of religious cultism, fantasy and horror, is certainly worth a read.

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