Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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 aware that this decision comes with horrific and deadly consequences. Almost on 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 connections to Syrenka and to the tragedy of so long ago.
A big thanks to the publisher on netGalley for accepting my request in reading this book early!
MONSTROUS BEAUTY is a very dark and seductive read filled with a very heart-wrenching prose and a fantastic set of woven fantasy elements that I'm sure will please a lot of its readers. While I haven't read too many books based on the mermaid mythology (though I should definitely start to read more of them) however this story was still a pleasure to read and the author did such an amazing job in alluring her readers into a mystery with just the right amount of deep hidden secrets, an intriguing set of characters, and of course, delivered a thought-provoking tale unlike any other mermaid tale I've read so far. So that is its good points and now onto the bad points . . .
I won't lie to you here - this book was very hard to get into. At least towards the beginning of the novel. With so much going on, from ghosts to family curses to the mermaids themselves, I sometimes had trouble in keeping record of what was exactly happening and what was going to happen which I believe is the book's weakest point in my mind and it was probably the main reason why I'm giving this book a lower star rating than I originally planned to. For such an amazing-sounding concept, it was unfortunate that the writing dragged a little too often and I often found myself confused now and again. Not the mention the ending was quite disappointing and sad as well, however I do understand why the author chose to write this particular ending of hers because everything has their consequences.
But despite those elements I've mentioned, when it comes down to it I really enjoyed the way Elizabeth Fama incorporated a love story with a bit tragedy and a non-typical mermaid tale that we see get a happy ending. It's a rare thing to find in young adult books because when I think about mermaid stories I think of the Disney version of The Little Mermaid, so I'm glad this author chose to end her novel with something like the sad and original Little Mermaid storyline. For those who know of the original mermaid tale, you will know what I mean. Anyway, I also even loved the way Fama wrote about her main character's desperation, that being Syrenka, and the heart-breaking love she shared between her and a boy named Ezra . . . even the consequences of blindness revenge and the loneliness of immortality that affected Syrenka's character . . . it was all very well written and will strike a cord with anyone who reads this book.
Overall, while readers are left with some unanswered questions and perhaps an unsatisfying ending (it was a little unexpected for me), I thought MONSTROUS BEAUTY was still a fantastic novel and I'm looking forward to seeing more from this author. With action-packed adventures, love and heart-break, and cunning villains with strong and awe-inspiring heroines and their heroes to lead the way of this adventure, readers will definitely not be disappointed with this novel that Fama has managed to woven together!