Review: “Celestial Seepage,” Brian Fatah Steele

Rating: 4 out of 5

This is the second book I’ve read by Brian Fatah Steele. The first, Hungry Rain [review], was okay. It lacked in certain areas, but the main of it was interesting enough, and targeted closely enough to the type of story I like to read, that I decided to try another one of his books. Celestial Seepage is definitely a bit better. It’s certainly imaginative!

Harper Llewellyn is a librarian who’s been temporarily assigned to the Historical Society to digitize and catalog all of the Society’s documents. It’s going to be a very long task, made all the harder because the director of the museum, Elizabeth Vickers, doesn’t want her there. Shortly after Harper’s arrival, strange things start to happen, and Miss Vickers starts to go ’round the twist. Harper tries to figure out who approved the project and assigned her to it so she can get out of it, and finds herself dealing with three mysterious figures who run “the Trust,” which seems to have some influence in the town. Augustine is a chaotic, moody artist. Donovan is into technology. Riley is just a college student, but she tells Harper she’ll try to find out what’s going on and get her reassigned. Soon people in the failing town of Ellesmere start dying off, getting stabbed by suddenly-crazed drug dealers or running into traffic, all near the Historical Society. Something’s been trapped under the building for decades, and now it’s getting loose.

This is a fascinating blend of horror with just a smidge of science fiction and a dash of cosmic horror. Two terrible entities, the Motherarium and the Orthodoxant, are determined to be free. And once they’re free, they plan to wipe out every human on the planet by spawning horrific–and hungry–creatures. But they’re not the only alien entities hanging out in Ellesmere–there are others who were sent to stop them from their repeated destruction of “lesser” sentient races. The setup is intriguing.

I really like the characters in this one. The characters were a down-side in Hungry Rain because most of them were stereotypes and you couldn’t really tell who was meant to be the protagonist. In this one, Harper and Riley are the main protagonists. The other characters including Lana (Riley’s girlfriend), Petra (Augustine’s friend-with-benefits), and Sean (Harper’s husband), not to mention Miss Vickers and her semi-suitor Richard, have more interest than did all the side characters in that other book. Even Donovan, who doesn’t get much screen time, has a little bit of backstory that informs his choices.

There are only a few quibbles that I had with this book. There’s one development regarding Harper near the end that I don’t think gets sufficiently explained. And the epilogue to what happens feels a bit like a cheat–it either rang a bit false, or maybe just needed some extra detail, or something. I also felt like the reason Harper’s arrival at the Society triggered the story’s events was insufficiently explained.

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