Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Fathom” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.55  ·  Rating details ·  603 ratings  ·  108 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, 380 pages
Published February 2nd 2010 by St. Martins Press-3PL (first published November 25th 2008)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Fathom, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Fathom

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.55  · 
Rating details
 ·  603 ratings  ·  108 reviews

Sort order
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 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
Nov 02, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
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 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 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 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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010, fantasy
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 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 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 marked it as dnf_2009  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: authors_women
~260 pages in and I just don't care.
amirah azam
Ah. This book had so much potential.

I was in love with the cover art and the synopsis - watery mythical beings, dark and mysterious magic, old gods and goddesses, all tangled with modern set pieces and customs and human nature. It started out strong and enchanting, and the pace took off at a steady rhythm. But towards the middle, I had begun to sense the tremors underfoot. The protagonist is a dear, though I wish she had been more developed, more complex of a character (view spoiler)
Sep 09, 2017 rated it it was ok
I'm having a hard time reviewing this book because I feel like I never really understood it. The prose is fine, even lyrically pretty at times. The plot progresses without stalling out, although I wouldn't call it fast-paced, necessarily.

I guess it's really the pacing that I had a problem with. I was never sure who the book was supposed to be about, since it jumps around constantly and at random. The whole thing felt uneven.

Was it about Nia, possibly the only sympathetic character? Was it about
Steven Cole
Jun 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is essentially the story of Nia, a teenage girl in early to mid 1900s Florida, her transformation into something supernatural, and her battles with ancient gods.

I loved the world that Priest painted here. I was absolutely sucked into this place and felt the prose just flowed as the world was described. That ability to suck me in is really why I've rated this book so highly. The environment was enchanting. The supernatural creatures were at times creepy and other times fascinating, but they
Lovecraft meets elemental fantasy. Lot of mythic promise lurking in the premise. One ancient goddess wants to wake Cthulhu. One ancient god wants to keep singing the lullaby that keeps him asleep. One dark night each gets a cousin to transform into something rich and strange. Bells are rung. We swap steam-punk for flappers. Also there is an insurance guy and a firetruck.

It's soothing in its way, and a good bus book. If there was a little deeper level, I did not see it.
Cecilia Rodriguez
Priest's story weaves mythology with the paranormal in a dark
fantasy set in 1930's Florida.
There are very subtle influences of: Poe(The Bells), Lovecraft and Melville.
Laurie Clark
Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a page-turner! I couldn't put it down.
Sonja P.
Not my favorite priest
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 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 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
Oct 17, 2010 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 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 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
Brendan Coster
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Shadoweyes, Volume One (Shadoweyes, #1)
  • Storykiller
  • Ill Met in the Arena
  • The Immortality Factor
  • Lucifer, Volume 3: Blood in the Streets
  • The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist: Volume 3
  • The Trolley to Yesterday
  • Siren Sisters
  • The Secret History of Mermaids and Creatures of the Deep
  • The Girl with No Hands and Other Tales
  • Will Power (Hawthorne Saga, #2)
  • Walking The Tree
  • We Both Go Down Together (Incryptid, #0.09)
  • Trampoline: An Anthology
  • Courtney Crumrin in the Twilight Kingdom (Courtney Crumrin, #3)
  • Angel of Darkness
  • I Love Him to Pieces (My Boyfriend Is a Monster, #1)
  • A Night of Blacker Darkness
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
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »