Friday, September 21, 2012

Review: Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama


Source: Received an egalley on Netgalley for an honest review.
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux (BYR)
Release Date: September 4, 2012
Number of Pages: 295 (hardcover)

Blurb from Goodreads:
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.



Being someone who loves the Disney movie, The Little Mermaid, I was a little ashamed of myself for only having one mermaid story before this one. That's right, this was only my second mermaid book. And I really enjoyed it. One of the things that I love most about books that have different paranormals or creatures or anything, is the fact that the author has so much room for creative license. They can choose to go with something more traditional, or they can totally mix it up. I know some people are traditionalists when it comes to supernaturals, but I personally like it when author's do things their own. It makes everything more interesting. :D

In Monstrous Beauty, Elizabeth Fama takes mermaid folklore to a dark place. She weaves in curses, and dark secrets of mermaids. These mermaids are seductive, and very similar to Syren's in that way, which made me chuckle when I first read Syrenka's name. :P Along with being seductive, they live long lives, and are not supposed to be seen by humans...the latter being a similar trait among mermaids and tends to explain away why we never see them in real life...you know, if we were to try and claim that they were real and all. :P

Another thing that made Monstrous Beauty so interesting was the main narrator, Hester. She wasn't very easy to connect with...but the story itself was still completely compelling. Parts of the story are also narrated by Ezra...which gave the reader a bit of an inside view on things that Hester hadn't quite figured out yet. Both Hester and Ezra weren't really characters that you clicked with. I liked them well enough, but I just didn't "connect" with them. They're extremely detached, but somehow their story still manages to keep you hooked. I think that in a way it has to do with the way that Elizabeth Fama has crafted the story. She has some detached characters who are mysteriously linked, and are not only detached from the reader, but are detached from every day life. While reading, it's like you're trying to make a connection between Hester and Ezra, and you're hoping that whatever it is will finally help Hester open up to other people in her life (most notably Peter...who I loved :D). I found this form of storytelling really addictive, quick, and I also found it extremely easy to get caught up in the story.

I read this one with my friend, Zoë, and I absolutely loved it! :D I didn't want to put it down, and it made me want to check out some of the other mermaid books that I've heard of, but haven't gotten around to yet! I'd recommend this one to mermaid fans who like it when author's create a unique twist on supernaturals, and for people who like to be wrapped up in a story. I will caution that if you absolutely can't stand stories that have narrators who you don't connect with, then you might not like this one, but then again, I usually only read stories with main characters I click with...yet I loved this one, so you might wanna give it a shot. ;D

Any mermaid fans out there?
Have you read this one?
If you have, what did you think?
If you haven't, does it sound like something you want to read?

18 comments:

  1. I've actually never read a mermaid book, myself. But perhaps I should give this one a go if you say you loved it that much! Books are definitely much better when you feel like you can relate with the characters though, that is true.

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    1. You definitely should! :D The crazy thing was that it didn't even matter that you couldn't connect! I've never had a book compel me like that even though the character wasn't one I felt close to. :) I'd suggest giving it a try at first. It just might compel you, too. :)

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  2. I've only read one other mermaid book, Lies Beneath, and LOVED IT! I do need to try out more of them. I've heard awesome things about this one! I'm glad you liked it so much. :)

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    1. I've heard great things about Lies Beneath! :D Glad you loved it! :D I am, too! :D

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  3. I've never read a mermaid book either. The cover for this one is GORGEOUS! I'm definitely intrigued to read this after reading your review though. Is a naturalist a human?

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    1. It really is gorgeous! :D A naturalist??? You mean like for readers? Maybe...maybe it could be someone who refuses to read anything to do with non-human species. :P lol It's a great story! :D

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    2. Haha at the beginning it says Ezra is a young naturalist? And I don't really know what that is?? Or I do, and am just really dumb at the moment lol.

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    3. haha oh in the description! He studies nature, that's what a naturalist is. He pretty much just wanders around doodling things in nature, learning about them, and recording what he learns. lol Awe, don't worry. I don' think it's really a big field of study anymore, so it makes sense that you wouldn't know what it was.

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    4. Oh god, talk about a blonde moment ;P It was just the way I was originally reading that sentence that had me confused lol.

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    5. haha that's alright, I totally spaced on where naturalist even was in the post. :P And I've read the description many times! haha Well at least it's clearer now. :)

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  4. I also haven't read about mermaids, but its been in my head lately.... someone gave me an arc of Waking Storms, so when I get ahold of the first one, then I'll read that series. For someone who reads a lot of paranormal stuff, its kind ogf strange that I haven't come across mermaids yet! Oh, and I think Little Mermaid is also one of my favorite Disney films also :-)

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    1. I think I gave you that one! :D Ya, I know, I can't believe I haven't read more mermaid books! Yay! :D Woo hoo for Little Mermaid fans! :D

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  5. I am a huge fan of mermaids to! I started reading Wake by Amanda Hocking and was so excited that it would be my first mermaid book and I DNF'd it so I was totally sad. But I have seen SOOOO many good reviews of this one. I love that she takes mermaids to a darker place, makes everything much less pretty than is expected. So happy you enjoyed it so much, now I need to get my hands on it! Great review Ambur!

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    1. Awe! That sucks, Jenni! :( I'll have to be wary of that one, I've heard mixed things. I hope that you like Monstrous Beauty better than you liked Wake! :D Thanks, Jenni! :D

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  6. I am a huge fan of mermaid books and the like and I think a lot of people know that by now lol! I actually connected with all of the main characters, but even though you didn't, I'm glad you still enjoyed it. It was very plot-driven. :)

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    1. haha :) Yay for mermaid fans! I just found them so detached and that kind of kept me from clicking, but I'm glad I still enjoyed it, too. ;) Definitely, which I think is why I found the characters more detached. :)

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