Monday, September 24, 2012

Review: Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama

From Goodreads: 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 Rating: 4 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: It took a few stories involving mermaids but with Elizabeth Fama’s Monstrous Beauty, I finally found one that delivered on its promise of seductive yet vicious mermaids. Combine the dark plot with ghosts, a curse lasting generations and descriptive imagery, and it’s no wonder that Fama’s book is my favourite mermaid novel to date! Told from the seamlessly alternating perspectives of the mermaid Syrenka and the human Hester born almost a century and a half later, Monstrous Beauty slowly reveals how the lives of these two young women are intertwined.

Although she harbours a crush on her best friend Peter, Hester remains wary of falling in love. After all, Hester reasons that love eventually leads to wanting a family – something she can’t afford to have because every woman in her side of the family dies several days after giving birth. When Hester encounters Ezra and falls for him suddenly, – I didn’t like the instalove even if made sense in the grand scheme of things – he helps her realize that the pattern of deaths may be because of a curse rather than due to genetics.

I liked Hester; but I thought Syrenka’s story was much more captivating – and not just because I found Syrenka to be a more complex character than Hester. First off, Syrenka’s POV allows us to be privy to knowledge that Hester must discover herself in order to piece together what happened many, many years earlier. Additionally, the events leading up to the curse occur during Syrenka’s lifetime and so those events are part of the present for Syrenka but part of the past for Hester. Although I love history, it’s more fun to read about events as they’re occurring.

A must read for those looking for an enthralling mermaid tale, Monstrous Beauty was released on September 4, 2012 by Farrar, Strous and Giroux. 

Comments About the Cover: I like its simplicity but I feel like it’s a bit too plain, you know? 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Random House) for free via NetGalley.

10 comments:

  1. It's so encouraging that you say this is your favourite mermaid book so far because I have been wary of them for a long time now due to lacklustre reviews. But I could seriously see myself enjoying this one! I really love the concept and I'm glad the alternating POVs were done well. Too bad to hear that there's insta-love in this one though!

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  2. I've read mixed reviews of this one and was really looking forward to reading your review, Z, as our tastes are pretty similar. I'm glad this one worked out for you. I was already drawn to the dark and seductive mermaids. Definitely giving this one a try!

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  3. I really enjoyed Syrenka's story too Z, I found her more interesting and tragic than Hester and really looked forward to when the chapters would flip back to her! I'm bummed about this new cover though - it's really pretty but I think the one before it had a much darker feel that suited the story. Oh well though:)

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  4. Awesome, Z! I lost my interest on this one when I read a negative review. I'm okay with insta-love as long as it makes sense so I might like it much better.

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  5. Great review. I'm not a big fan of mermaid books myself either and while I've read great reviews for this, I haven't got around to reading it yet. Glad you enjoyed it.

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  6. Whoa! this one sounds like a great mermaid tale! and it;s your favorite one to date! I really need to get this one! Great review sweetheart <333 like always! ^_^

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  7. I actually just read a review for this book. It was negative, but I've also read quite a few positive ones. This book sounds really great--I think I'll have to decide for myself! Fab review, Zahida. :)

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  8. I think this might be my favourite mermaid book to date too. :) Usually they are very mediocre for me, but this one definitely impressed! Lovely review, Z. :)

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  9. I liked the original cover much better. :) Really great review, my dear! The mass hype and enthusiasm is contagious- hence, I'll be reading this very, very soon. I can never resist a dark, mesmerizing, beautiful tale with vicious mermaids to boot..

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  10. Thank you for your post. This is excellent information.

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