Author: Elizabeth Fama
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Page Count: 304 pages, Hardcover (I read the ARC)
Date Published: September 4th 2012
Find it on Goodreads:Monstrous Beauty
Source: An ARC was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.Rating: 4/5
Fierce, seductive mermaid Syrenka falls in love with Ezra, a young naturalist. When she abandons her life underwater for a chance at happiness on land, she is unaware that this decision comes with horrific and deadly consequences.
Almost one hundred forty years later, seventeen-year-old Hester meets a mysterious stranger named Ezra and feels overwhelmingly, inexplicably drawn to him. For generations, love has resulted in death for the women in her family. Is it an undiagnosed genetic defect . . . or a curse? With Ezra’s help, Hester investigates her family’s strange, sad history. The answers she seeks are waiting in the graveyard, the crypt, and at the bottom of the ocean—but powerful forces will do anything to keep her from uncovering her connection to Syrenka and to the tragedy of so long ago.
My Thoughts: Dark and exciting!
When you hear 'mermaid book' what do you think of? Probably a light, fluffy story that's kind of cheesy, right? Think again. Monstrous Beauty has turned that expectation upside down with this moody, beautiful, dark, tale. This is definitely not a book for the fainthearted, nor those who enjoy more of a lighter read. It involves a lot of things that are scarcely touched in YA and it is definitely not your typical Little Mermaid tale.
The book had my heart racing and it was difficult to put down half the time.The prose was haunting and there was something about the book that had me on edge at times. There were moments where it was slow, especially during the chapters in present day with Hester, but that's probably because Syrenka's story was just so captivating. Hester paled a bit next to the deadly siren, as most of the things she studied, we find out or can predict from reading Syrenka's chapters. The alternating between the chapters set in the 1870's and present day was so well done, impressive really. Both narratives were similar, but we learned so many different things from each
I thought this book was fabulous. It kept me reading late at night and I loved how different it was compared to other 'mermaid' stories in the YA genre. There was so much history and mystery involved, and that made it fun and interesting. There were only rare dull moments, with fantastic characters and an incredible story. There were plenty of plot twists and unexpected turns that keep the reader guessing and it was complex and unique and a total delight.
Listen to a clip from the audio book!