Review by Michael Bryant
Through the narrow lens of time, we the living view what is perceived as reality, a universe of energy and matter with unbreakable laws governing its expansion and development. Everything is accounted for and measurable. Substance is finite, nothing is created or destroyed; all is merely changing form. All matter has a knowable mass and density.
The dead know better. They know of the overlaps. The points on the continuum where universes collide, where volume exceeds the measured limits of its container, where matter and energy cease to change form and vanish from the cosmos, and substances unyielding to Newtonian laws seep through. And they know of the sixth ocean. An ocean yet unborn which walks the Earth in unassuming form, and will drown this world in a flood of unreality.
The Sea of Ash by Scott Thomas combines imaginative genius with a faux-classical prose style, producing an effect of eldritch atmosphere in a compelling and engaging narrative. A former educator-turned-rare book collector gives his account of journeying in the footsteps of Doctor Albert Pond, whose posthumously-published journal has become a valued collector’s item for the supernaturally inclined. A pilgrimage of history turns to a hideous adventure as our narrator finds himself pitted against the same celestial menace that Dr. Pond faced before his abrupt disappearance. With his life (and possibly the world) at stake, he must consult with phantasmal powers to battle the forces of the sixth ocean.
A deep tale of cosmic terror, The Sea of Ash balances the ghoulishly macabre with a whimsical playfulness as we are treated to scenes that are both deeply horrifying and awkwardly humorous. Incorporating elements of metaphysical science, body horror, investigative occultism, with a sprinkling of architecture porn, Thomas wraps his epic through the aeons in the ambience of necromantic New England.
My only complaint would be that I absolutely flew through this book and was done with it too soon, but the defining trait of a great storyteller is leaving the audience wanting more.
5/5 Trilobite-Shaped Teeth