Publication: September 4th 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Format: Paperback, 352 pages
Source: Own, bought from Fullybooked
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
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 a harrowing tale of a centuries-old myth intertwined with curses, passionate and destructive love, and unearthly beings.
If I could sum up Monstrous Beauty with one word — and believe me, there are a lot — it’d be delicious.
The story was simply compelling because of its mysterious and eerie nature. I’m a total nerd when it comes to that genre so I completely ate it all up. It’s also thanks to Fama’s gorgeous writing that makes this read all the more emotional and realistic. I felt like I was reading an old account from history or an ancient folklore that’s been passed down from generation to generation.
I was pleasantly surprised with the mermaids portrayed here. I was quite accustomed to the Disney-manufactured and all splash and sass kind. I never really explored their vicious side behind all that ethereal beauty. It both terrified and fascinated me.
Speaking of terrifying things, there were situations in the story that had me gaping. I was like:
And there are a handful of them to add.
I like how the setting set the gothic atmosphere of the novel. From graveyards to churches, and even the beach of all places. It vaguely reminded me of The Madman’s Daughter, another dark and delicious YA novel. (Click here to see my review of it.)
I also like how the supernatural elements were incorporated in the plot. It made the mood all the more chill-inducing than it already is.
As for the characters, I thought their respective roles were excellently written. We have Syrenka with a passion that could ignite everything in her wake. I really felt her raw emotions and her desire to become a mortal. And then we have our main character, Hester Goodwin. I love how she keeps on pressing her curiosity. It’s probably because she’s a history buff. I was both scared and excited for her shocking discoveries in terms of her ancestry.
This is my second Elizabeth Fama title the year and definitely another favourite. I highly recommend Monstrous Beauty if you’re looking for a richer and darker YA novel, or if you just want to read something creepy and insanely beautiful at the same time.