Published: Oct. 1, 2012
Reviewed by: Jo
Rating (out of 5): 4.5 stars
Fathom is a beautifully crafted tale of ancient Celtic legends and the difficulties of growing up with emotional scars.
An awful family tragedy has both literally and figuratively haunted 16-year-old Kira Callihan for most of her life. Growing up in California with her father and grandmother, Kira finds it difficult to live with the memories of the night her mother killed her sister then threw herself into the ocean. It’s even harder when her classmates whisper behind her back, wondering if she will turn out the same. Shy and withdrawn, she takes solace in her best friend Sean and their daily swims.
When a group of teenagers comes into their little tourist town and a house party spirals out of control, Kira’s world is turned on its head. Battling with mysteries she doesn’t understand, and feelings she’s not sure she wants to, Kira begins to question everything around her, including herself.
The beginning of Fathom has an atmospheric style to it that reminded me of classic ghost stories. Describing the moment when Kira first sees what she thinks is her mother’s ghost had me flashing back to images of The Ring (yep, creepy!). Whilst this gothic feeling continues throughout, Merrie Destefano balances it brilliantly with Kira’s slightly awkward and sarcastic nature. The character description, ranging from the Paperdoll mean girls that torment her at school to the creatures from Celtic mythology, are so vivid that I had no trouble losing myself in this world.
I won’t go into too much detail about the supernatural element, as discovering it is part of the journey you take with Kira (spoiler-free review FTW, as Chelsea would say!), but suffice to say the world building is unique and outstanding. All I will say is Kira’s affinity with the sea is not entirely natural. Some chapters are told from Caleb’s point-of-view (one of the visiting teenagers) and these provided many of the puzzle pieces.
One thing that almost guarantees my love of a book is twists that I honestly didn’t see coming and Fathom has plenty. No character feels safe and when the action really starts to get going, I felt Kira and Caleb’s fear right alongside them.
Fathom had me feeling the entire emotional spectrum, I devoured it in a day. With a mixture of first love, a plot filled with emotional twist and a heart wrenching climax, I can only hope this is just beginning for Kira and Co. Fans of Rachel Vincent’s Soul Screamers series will want to look out for this one!
Sexual content: Kissing