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.
Monstrous Beauty is much more than a "mermaid book". There is magic, romance, adventure, and mystery that all comes together to make this a wonderfully addicting read. I was lucky enough to read this one months in advance and it did not disappoint! Elizabeth Fama is certainly an author to watch and I devoured this one in a couple of days.
I loved the alternating chapters (from the past to the present) and this certainly gave the book a unique twist. Monstrous Beauty is dark and romantic and highly original. It was apparent that Elizabeth had done a lot of research into marine history and lore. Her mermaids were fierce and far from the sultry woman on the cover. There was a wide range of characters in Monstrous Beauty, yet all of them were extremely well developed and detailed.
Hester, the main character, was a unique girl and although I think her connection with Ezra came on a little too strong for someone as independent as her, I enjoyed seeing their romance develop. Hester had to dig deep into her town's history and her determination was immediately clear. She also had to fight for her life on several occasions in order to figure out the true mystery of her heritage, Ezra, and the fearsome creatures that lurked beneath the water.
There were many twists and turns that kept me engaged and I was constantly surprised and on the edge of my seat. The summary is not able to give much away and the plot moved in so many different, unexpected directions that I was hooked from the start.
Elizabeth Fama obviously has a great imagination and the ending was fantastic- everything came together and left me thinking about the book for days after I'd finished. The young adult market is constantly releasing something fresh and exciting and Monstrous Beauty is no exception. This is by no means your typical read and this will appeal to both male and female readers.
Overall, Monstrous Beauty was an intricately written novel with exciting twists and a unique premise. The characters were memorable and I will definitely be recommending this to everyone when it releases in August!
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars
August 21, 2012/Farrar, Straus, and Giroux (BYR)/295 Pages/Young Adult
Source: Borrowed from my teacher (ARC)