Helen Sedgwick’s haunting book, “The Comet Seekers,” begins at a research base in the Arctic, where a team of scientists have gone to witness a rare phenomenon in the world of comets. We are introduced to Roisin, a scientist, and Francois, a young chef for the research base, two characters who on the surface don’t seem to have much connection, yet for some reason are oddly drawn to each other. Then the novel moves on, leaving that scene and place frozen in time, while we learn more about a strange and mysterious intertwining, a connection that will become clearer as the novel progresses.
Along the way Sedgewick introduces us to other intriguing characters, some of whom are ghosts, and all of whom are mysteriously obsessed with various comets – sometimes going to extreme lengths of various kinds to seek them out. The young Scottish author masterfully draws readers in to the lives of several eccentric characters, painting them so indelibly that they stay with readers – at least they did with this reader – long after the story ends.
Sedgwick, formerly a research physicist herself, weaves fluidly back and forth through time and lives to finally reveal Roisin’s and Francois’s surprising connection, showing how their destinies have always been unknowingly united by comets traveling across their skies. By the time the backstory has unfolded and we return to the research base, she has illuminated the lives and significance of these ancestors much like the bright fragments of an exploding comet, revealing how seeming strangers can be inextricably connected through time and space. The connections she reveals are real, yet mysterious, reminding this reader of Einstein’s theory of quantum entanglement, in this tale, brought down to its spooky actions in everyday life.