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3.56  ·  Rating Details ·  568 Ratings  ·  100 Reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published February 2nd 2010 by Tor Books (first published November 25th 2008)
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Nia and her unstable cousin Bernice flee into the ocean, one to be captured by a water witch who wants to awaken the sleeping Leviathan and bring on the apocalypse, one to be rescued by a disgraced god who is not yet ready for the end of the world. With the broadest scope of Priest's novels, Fathom has the potential to be her best work yetbut for want of a protagonist, the novel flounders. Neither a fun read nor particularly meaningful, the book is a disappointment and I don't recommend it.

Ben Babcock
As a caveat, I found the description on this edition of the book quite misleading. Its tone is glib. Phrases like "task force" and "add in a hapless fire inspector who's just trying to get his paperwork in order" cultivates a tongue-in-cheek feel that made me expect a zanier book than Cherie Priest delivers. So if you're basing your decision to read the book on the description, don't be surprised if Fathom defies your expectations.

That's essentially Fathom in a nutshell: it defies expectations.
Mar 12, 2009 Angela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Cherie Priest's Fathom claims on its inner flap that it is "quite unlike anything you've ever read", and I'll give it this, it's right.

Nia is visiting her cousin Bernice and other family members on a island in Florida when Bernice unexpectedly commits a crime--and when Nia refuses to help her cover it up, the two of them are in turn ambushed during their struggle by a water goddess bent on using Bernice to further her aim of awakening a being even older and more powerful than she. Nia is transf
Fathom isn’t my favourite of Cherie Priest’s books (the honour for that goes to Bloodshot and Hellbent, by an awful long way), but it was an interesting read. It felt somewhat… inconclusive, because in the end, nearly all of the actions of the book mean nothing. One character in particular just seemed to be there to be described in a quirky way in the summary (“add in a hapless fire inspector who’s just trying to get his paperwork in order”). It was particularly odd because it wasn’t a quirky so ...more
Reading Sarah
Jul 26, 2009 Reading Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, myths
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 27, 2009 Mike rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cherie Priest is an author better known for Southern Gothic fiction and, despite its Florida locale, Fathom is a slight deviation from that area. Fathom certainly makes use of Priest’s familiarity with that genre but places more emphasis on the fantastic elements and overarching plot than on the setting and atmosphere of the story. In essence Priest trades elements of horror for elements of the fantastic to craft a story more in vein with Charles de Lint than say Edgar Allan Poe.

Read on for more
Apr 12, 2011 Alice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's difficult to judge how much I might have enjoyed a book by how quickly I read it. Some books I slog through, but, generally, the less I'm enjoying it, the faster I read it so I can be done. But sometimes, I come across a book that has tight tension and good characterization that's anything but a chore to finish, and I keep absorbing words until I'm out of pages. This book was definitely the latter case; I was disappointed to be done. Not because the plot wasn't resolved (it was), but becaus ...more
Fathom - Cherie Priest

Very strange plot, definitely grabs you. Mythic fantasy. Light reading.

This is a difficult genre to write. There is a thin line in making believable fantasy. There are moments when this book slips, but Priest brings it back, which gives it just a little camp edge, probably intentionally. Most certainly Priest is a clever writer, who is pushing some boundaries here, twisting events in unexpected ways.

I can't recomend this unreservedly, but i was pleasantly amused.

Priest is
Mar 29, 2010 Chris rated it it was amazing
I love Borders (can I say that?). I really do. Here's why: When they have an educator's week, they mean all educators, not just k-12 grade. I love that.

It helps because I am addicted to book buying. I can't buy just one book. It doesn't work. I swear the book gets lonely by itself in the bag. It starts to cry. It's very sad.

Anyway, I picked this help during educator's week in part because it sounded more interesting than Boneshaker and because it was educator's week.

Ms. Priest, I'm buying your o
Sep 29, 2009 Brooke rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, 2010
This was my least favorite Cherie Priest book I've read, although I don't mean to suggest it's bad by any means. It's an interesting fantasy novel that I read in two sittings and enjoyed, but it's also a book filled with characters that lacked purpose. Some "elementals" take hold of humans to have them do their bidding, but even after all the supernatural intervention, the humans don't really achieve anything. When I read a fantasy novel, I usually go into it assuming that the good guys will sav ...more
Tamora Pierce
Feb 25, 2009 Tamora Pierce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Duelling powers, one water, one earth, take over cousins as they drown in the 1930s. Arahab, a water goddess who wishes to wake Leviathan and destroy the world to gain his favor, remakes the murderess Bernice to survive in the water and through time. Mossfeaster fixes a cocoon of stone around Nia and waits for her to become as stone, to be a fitting player in opposition to Bernice and her goddess.

It's . . . beautiful, creepy, alien, familiar, and sweeping, all together. I loved the servant of Vu
Nov 13, 2010 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is blessedly weird.

Read my full review here:
Miss Ginny Tea
Jan 25, 2009 Miss Ginny Tea marked it as dnf_2009  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: authors_women
~260 pages in and I just don't care.
I've liked Cherie Priest for a little while now; ever since my brother's girlfriend handed me a copy of Boneshaker, I've been trying to pick up as much of her work as I could, finishing the Clockwork Century series, and reading the Cheshire Red books (which I wish, wish, wish that she'd return to.) Fathom always appealed, because it was a standalone, and I picked it up and put it down about three or four times over the past few years. Working out my Halloween TBR, I thought it was finally time.

Feb 07, 2011 Andrea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's so much easier to explain what I don't like about books than what I do like about the ones I love. But I enjoyed Fathom enough that I feel compelled to make the effort.

This novel feels like a chip off a larger diamond of a story: something incomplete, sharp-edged, yet glorious. It follows the supernatural adventures of farm-girl Nia: her introduction to a sea-witch/goddess bent on destroying the world, her transformation into a creature never before seen on the earth, and her attempts to fo
Sep 14, 2012 Whitney rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Natalie Carey
Hmmm... Many mixed feelings about this book. It's my first Cherie Priest, and I have a couple of her other books that I'm really anxious to read (Maplecroft, Four and Twenty Blackbirds), and I really loved her writing style, descriptions, and language, but I just didn't love this as much as I thought I might. I'm not a fan of the ocean, which probably should've sent up a red flag, but there were other things I didn't like either. The characters felt flat and a bit forced, and I especially didn't ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 17, 2010 Kelly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2010
This was one of those books that I had to let percolate for a bit before I could review it. It's oddly haunting and, while much of what happens is hard and harsh and brutal, you still come out of it with a pale feeling of optimism. I'm also finding this book difficult to classify. It's part horror story, part transformative tale and partially an ode to the old Gods. The Gods who roamed the earth before mortal man was a twinkle on the skin of the world.

Cherie Priest's writing is lyrical and has g
Catherine Fitzsimmons
I picked up this hardcover – at list price, which is highly unusual for me – because I loved Priest’s first book, Four and Twenty Blackbirds, which I read the previous year, and I read her blog enough to know that much of her career rested on the success of this, her first hardcover. Hoping someday to be published myself, I was happy to contribute to a still budding author whose work I had already enjoyed.

Fathom is a story set in mid-20th-century Florida about ancient gods fighting to resurrect
Catherine Siemann
Jan 30, 2010 Catherine Siemann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was strange to read this book directly after Lovecraft: awakening elder gods! Ending the world as we know it! A church with some very odd goings-on, connecting to a much earlier belief system than Christianity. But Priest's novel has a very different feel -- mythic but somehow very much connected to everyday life, with a solid sense of place and (early 20th c.) time. There are two sets of characters, Arahab the water witch and her adopted children, the no-longer-human Bernice, once a spoiled ...more
Garret Reece
Jan 09, 2009 Garret Reece rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 fam
Not wanting to really buy the second novel of Priest after 'Boneshaker' -- Clementine I believe -- I found Fathom in the local Library. It was a fine story, the gore details and the otherness of 'Lady of Water' were great -- maybe not carried through like I'd have wanted, but so it goes. Priest does an excellent job with details in this one. You can very much feel like you are really on a too-muggy Florida Island... and when Bernice is with [spoiler] that guy and says, "No no, THIS is not a city ...more
Mar 05, 2011 7hir7een rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Graham Crawford
I enjoyed this because it was mostly unexpected. One has the impression the author has read widely in this genre and wanted to write about the implications most other books gloss over. The best passages are where she sticks to this level of detail. The downside of this book is that much of the action is lightly sketched in to bridge these detailed scenes. The beginning and end sections are especially light. I suspect she was trying for fairy tale mythic here, but she misses the tone.

She also mis
Mary Ellen
I didn't like it. Then I liked it. Then I didn't like it.

That pretty much sums up my reaction to Fathom. Look, I know that "start with a bang" is something that's drummed into the head of every genre writer. But there also needs to be some context and some level-setting, and that doesn't happen for about 100 pages. And that's a long time to be confused.

But then the threads started to weave together, and I thought I had found a treasure that only a patient reader would uncover. And things went al
Martin Gunnesson
Expectations are dangerous. Anticipation can whet the appetite, but set your expectations to high, and the disappointment can be profound. I'm not really sure why my expectations for this book where so exceedingly high, but the fact remains that it left me disappointed. I guess that I could have given it a better review, if I came in more neutral.
Anyway, the story is adequate, and some of the ideas and premises are intriguing. The world "works". Parts of the tale are beutifully told, and it has
Apr 06, 2011 Ian rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-up
I am still reading this, but it isn't in the genre I was expecting. Cherie was recommended to me as a steam punk author, but this is more Lovecraft horror. Admittedly it's in the right time period, but theres no steam punk at all. That aside, I'm only somewhat interested in the characters, still confused about what's going on halfway through the book, and only peripherally interested in finishing reading the story. I like Lovecraft, but I don't find her character development to be compelling eno ...more
Jun 14, 2011 Jenn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 (f ...more
Jun 07, 2010 Heidi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I decided to read this because I really enjoyed Priest's latest novel, Boneshaker. Fathom wasn't as enjoyable for me, although it is very unique - the author definitely has her own voice. This particular novel is sort of a fantasy-fable-historical fiction mashup, which I liked about it, but the story ultimately fell flat. In short, a powerful water witch and her human allies (who consist of a pirate and a psychotic teenage girl) try to destroy the world by awakening a godlike giant who is slumbe ...more
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CHERIE PRIEST is the author of over a dozen novels, including the steampunk pulp adventures The Inexplicables, Ganymede, Dreadnought, Clementine, and Boneshaker. Boneshaker was nominated for both the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award; it was a PNBA Award winner, and winner of the Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. Cherie also wrote Bloodshot and Hellbent from Bantam Spectra; Fathom and the ...more
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