Celia Reynolds is the youngest in a set of triplets and the one with the least valuable power. Anne can see the future, and Jane can see the present, but all Celia can see is the past. And the past seems so insignificant -- until Celia meets Lo.
Lo doesn't know who she is. Or who she was. Once a human, she is now almost entirely a creature of the sea -- a nymph, an ocean girl, a mermaid -- all terms too pretty for the soulless monster she knows she's becoming. Lo clings to shreds of her former self, fighting to remember her past, even as she's tempted to embrace her dark immortality.
When a handsome boy named Jude falls off a pier and into the ocean, Celia and Lo work together to rescue him from the waves. The two form a friendship, but soon they find themselves competing for Jude's affection. Lo wants more than that, though. According to the ocean girls, there's only one way for Lo to earn back her humanity. She must persuade a mortal to love her . . . and steal his soul.
Can I tell you how seriously I dig all the outlandish fairy tales cropping up these days. It's not all good, obviously, but when it's good it's really good. The trick seems to be the way they're anchored in the real and tangible, while swirling the fantastical around it. You can't just describe the plot line and impart what the book is about: See there's this girl, she's kind of a mermaid, but without a tail and a case of amnesia? And she saves this boy, but so does this girl, who's part of this set of triplets? And the triplets have powers, so this girl sees the mermaid/not mermaids past, as well as the boys, and there's also these kind of werewolves, and they tie in with the sort of mermaids who are potentially wicked evil.
Yah, see, not exactly selling it am I?
It was the same with the Scorpio Races: There are these horses that come out of the ocean once a year, and these people on this island race them. But they're kind of feral, and they like to eat people? The horses, that is. And there's this girl who's going to do the race, except on a normal horse, and they don't want her to because she's a girl.
I'm telling you, the more ridiculous these story lines are to describe, the better they seem to be in the reading. I can't even begin to imagine how these authors pitch them to their agents and or editors though.
Fathomless was many things, it had intriguing characters, a hazy/mythical setting that could almost be someplace real, and a fascinating story that slowly creeps towards these disturbing moments that bubble up into the story, interrupting the otherwise understated narrative. The Lo/Nadia hints of danger were particularly chilling, since you were never sure if she was entirely safe to those around her. Celia's sisters were also unsettling, and her strangely inclusive relationship with them often had me wondering if they was some sort of threat or not, as well.
"Who is it?" Anne asks.
"Her name's Nadia," I say.
"A girl?" Jane asks in disbelief.
"We were friends with the younger sister in Ellison." I argue.
"For all of five minutes," Anne argues. "But forget it- who is she?"
They sound like they think she might be a spy from another set of triplets.
But Pearce also throws in a lot of fun little moments of lightness, funny asides and moments of levity that lightened up this otherwise dark tale. It always surprised me when I found myself suddenly laughing.
"Maybe I'll go today. I don't know," I answer. "I'll need the car" I'm hoping the last point will persuade them to drop it- when we were only eleven, Anne predicted that I would wreck our car Ever since, she and Jane have been wary to let me drive it, even though I'm the only one without a speeding ticket to my name.What excited me the most though was how Fathomless tied in with Sweetly. For some reason I always thought Sisters Red, Sweetly and Fathomless were unrelated outside of the fact they were fairy tale retellings. When I realized they meshed together in a rather astounding way, I was so excited I immediately ordered a copy of Sisters Red (which I hadn't read yet). I can't wait to dig in and see the first threads of the tale coming together.
A totally engrossing read, with equal measures mystery, thriller, fairy tale otherness and just a smidge of the requisite romance, Fathomless will be sure to please both new readers and fans of Pearce's Sweetly and Sisters Red. So if the end of your holidays, be it back to work or back to school, are decidedly unmagical, make sure to pick up Fathomless and add some whimsy back to your routine.
Fathomless, by Jackson Pearce
Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers, September 4th, 2012
My copy acquired at the BEA
Check out my review of Sweetly
Buy Fathomless on Amazon