Author: Elizabeth Fama
Release Date: September 4th, 2012
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
Cover Judge: Love, love, love. Captures the literary and dark essence of the novel. LOVE.Quote Choice: SUPER CRAZY SCENE.
Source: For Review
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.Finally! If you follow me on twitter, you know about my quest to find a mermaid book that I actually liked and I have finally found the right now! Dangerous, dark, and sensual, Monstrous Beauty is not for the light-hearted but for lovers of amazing plot and prose!
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.
Fama is the kind of author that messes with your head with her intricate plots and story-telling. The book is told in two different perspectives: Hester, who is living in the now and is convinced her family is cursed because every generation of woman have died shortly after giving birth and Syrenka, who is living in 1873, a seductive mermaid who falls in love with a man and everything she has to go through to be happy with him.
This book is not light and fluffy, guys. Mermaids in this novel do super creepy stuff like eat organs to become human, crawl inside bodies, drown people, and all that terrifying stuff we love to read about. The novel isn't scary but the mermaid world is intense and chilling. Out of the two storylines, I have to say I connected the most to Syrenka. The formal writing style suits her personality and her backstory a lot more than it does Hester. Where it made Syrenka someone to both pity and fear, it made Hester detached from the story-telling. But where this is lacking, everything is made up for in the plot. There's ghosts and mermaids and sea witches and god the mythology in this book.
The romance between Syrenka and her man definitely trumped Hester and her man. I think it was because you see actually get to see everything Syrenka gives up for this man, how much she wants to be human and get away from the ocean, that you just believe their story even if the book skips their entire process of falling in love. Hester's story (both personal and love story) are revealed as the novel goes by in bits and pieces and you will be gasping by the time you reach the climax.
Fama is not afraid to bring on the deep, soulless despair that shows starkly in her writing style for both characters. Characters like Peter were endearing even if they barely appear and Ezra was charming and aloof all at once.
Overall, a bittersweet and desperate love story that i'm totally not doing justice.
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