Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Review: Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama

Left (old cover - ARC version), Right (New cover)

Book Description via Goodreads:

ARC, 295 pages
September 4, 2012, Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers

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.

Source: Netgalley (ebook) + Ksenia & FSG Books for Young Readers (print ARC) (Thank you!!)

My Thoughts:

Monstrous Beauty was two stories twisted together, blending into the ultimate paranormal mystery. The story was told in two parts: (1) the past - the 1870s when Syrenka and Ezra crossed paths and (2) the present when Hester, the last of a line of cursed women, lived and dealt with her genetic defect.

Syrenka was a gorgeous, deadly and passionate mermaid. When she found Ezra, she was careful and a bit distant with him at first, not wanting to endanger him and lose him. But as they spent more and more time together, the attraction the two felt got stronger. It was so strong that you could feel it coming off in waves. She left her world behind to join Ezra on land. But her stay on land was far from easy. I enjoyed reading about Syrenka and Ezra. They were so inlove and passionate.

I love Fama’s twist on the usual mermaid mythology. Instead of tails with scales, her mermaids had scutes. They had sharp wrist fins and wide eyes with horizontal pupils in the middle. Their magic was one of the most practical and most terrifying types, similar to the principles of alchemy. The underwater world of Monstrous Beauty was filled with wonder, loss and danger – one that I enjoyed exploring.

Hester was convinced that love and marriage would only bring her suffering and loss. Her mother, her grandmother and every woman in her family died after giving birth. She had decided to remain single for the rest of her life, evading certain death. But everything changed when she met Ezra, a mysterious, old-fashioned and intellectual guy who can banter with her, annoys her and attracts her at the same time. She didn’t expect to get close to Ezra, as well as to try to solve her family’s curse with his help. I really like how she fell for Ezra, no matter how much she tried to harden her heart. But she didn’t fall for him right away. At first, she was cautious and suspicious of him. But she felt a strong, unexplainable pull toward him.

Monstrous Beauty went beyond my expectations. The mysterious, almost sinister vibe of the novel was so strong that it wrapped around me and held me captive. As Hester tried to fill the blanks with clues and answers, she discovered that her town was not as simple as it was. In fact, it was filled with hidden mystery, intrigue, scandals and magic. Everything about the past and the present was connected. I couldn’t stop reading as Hester unearthed the covered-up and almost forgotten truth of her family.

Monstrous Beauty had the mysterious, magical, intriguing and surprising elements of Beautiful Creatures. Unputdownable, dark, tragic, fierce, sensual and spellbinding, Monstrous Beauty will appeal to older readers of paranormal, romance, fantasy and historical. I highly recommend this!



  1. Sounds like a great book that I can't wait to dive into! I just got a copy of this one so I'm hoping to devour it because I have yet to read a mermaid story even though I'm slightly obsessed with mermaids!

    Thanks for the awesome review, I'm so glad you loved this one. Many people have also been saying amazing things about Of Poseidon!

  2. This sounds twisty - So Ezra was with Syrenka over 100 years ago but is now with Hester?? I think I need to read how that all comes about lol

  3. Glad to hear that this one went beyond your expectations! I love all kinds of mythology, so this one definitely caught my attention. Still, I've been reading some mixed reviews here and there, so I haven't quite solidified my decision to read Monstrous Beauty yet. (Weird, considering your feelings were similar on my review of Lightbringer). But's nice to hear your thoughts! :)

  4. I read this book a month or so ago, and I quite enjoyed it despite a couple of little things! But I'm glad on a whole that you liked this book! Great review!

  5. Oh wow, this really sounds like it lived up to the captivating synopsis. The mythology especially fascinates me and how the past and present will intertwine. After reading and adoring Of Poseidon, I'm eager to dive into a darker approach to mermaids and Monstrous Beauty sounds like the PERFECT fit! You have made me so much more eager to read this now - amazing review, Precious!!

  6. amazing review, Precious!!

  7. I have an ARC of this and I can't wait to start it. Thanks for the awesome review. I am even more excited to start it. I have to say that I like the new cover more. The colors just stand out!

  8. I haven't heard of this, but it does sound like an interesting twist.
    Thanks for review.
    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog