Review: Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama

Monstrous BeautyMonstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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.

Wow. I can’t even begin to explain how thoroughly excellent Monstrous Beauty is. It’s to the point where I don’t even want to write a review, because, and I’ve said this before, it’s not going to come close to truly showing how amazing this book is.

Monstrous Beauty has everything that would make a book awesome: mermaids, ghosts, a curse, an awesome mystery, and an absolutely excellent plot.

The plot…. Oh my, that plot was… Wow. It took me some time to get used to the transitioning time periods, but when I did get used to it, I realized how awesome it was. Have you ever seen the movie Memento? If you haven’t, the main thing about it is that it’s presented as two different sequences of scenes: one in black-and-white sequences that’s shown chronologically, and one in color sequences that’s shown in reverse order. The two sequences eventually meet in the end, forming one story.

Monstrous Beauty is like that. There’s one set of sequences set in the late 1800’s that follows the main mermaid, Syrenka, and then there’s another set of sequences set in the present day that follows the main character, Hester. I really can’t say a lot about them, because so much in this book could be a spoiler, and I really don’t want to spoil this book for anyone.

I think the only negative things Monstrous Beauty had going for it were its predictability (though it may not be predictable for you. I found most of the plot twists coming, but that was only because I obsessively kept track of the characters in this book by taking notes. If I hadn’t taken notes, I most likely would not have seen most of the twists coming), and the fact that I didn’t really care for the characters (up until the last 10% or so). The characters were good and all, it’s just I didn’t really care for them too much, and the only thing I really cared about was the awesome plot, and how everything would tie together in the end.

My thoughts on the characters (really on Hester, Syrenka, Ezra, Pastor McKee and Linnie) changed immensely at the end, and I actually found myself crying (although I cry at everything).

Another extremely awesome aspect to Monstrous Beauty was Hester researching her heritage, and finding how everything related to her. However, I felt that it became really complicated and keeping up with all the characters and their histories got hard, so I had to write myself some notes. That doesn’t make it bad, though, it just get’s extremely complicated, so I suggest taking some notes if you get confused easily when it comes to characters and their histories (like me).

Oh, and the mermaids in this book were… vicious! They sure don’t sing… Instead of singing, they actually rip open people’s chests, rip out their hearts and swallow it whole, and eat people’s lungs. You know, the usual.

(I don’t think I’ll ever be able to watch The Little Mermaid the same way again…)

  little mermaid Pictures, Images and Photos

*slowly backs away* That's right, Ariel... I see you. I know what you're capable of... Don't try and fool me... 

Overall, Monstrous Beauty was twisted, disturbing, graphic, heartbreaking and beautiful.

And I loved every single moment of it.

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  1. Excellent review- I agree with you about how the plot flows between the two time periods!

  2. Thanks, Coranne! It took me a little bit to get used to the time periods, but once I got used to it I realized how brilliant it was, and how greatly it affected the story.


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