Title: Monstrous Beauty
Author: Elizabeth Fama
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Date of Publication: September 4, 2012
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.
I’m gonna drop the bomb now: I loved this book. I gave it five stars and a whole lot of hearts. I know it got mixed reviews and even some of my favorite bloggers did not like it but this time, I won’t be affected. I always question myself when I like a book when bloggers who like the same books as me don’t. Yes, I know, signs of a low self-esteem but they’re just more established and I feel like I don’t get the book because I loved it. But now, nope, I don’t care, I should be able to unapologetically like a book. Heehee.
I love mermaid books. I really do. The paranormal creatures I tolerate or love are the mermaids, angels and werewolves. But mermaids seem to really do it for me. What can I say, I love the great deep. So it might be my bias for mermaids which made me love this book as much as I do but it is certainly good.
Mermaids and ghosts. Sounds weird? I can’t believe it myself when I saw the back of the book (I read an ARC) because how can you mash two genres together? But Elizabeth Fama is supercalifreakinawesome as she has woven an intricate and wonderful story with a world so convincing I stopped listening to my lectures in school and just read this book. (Granted, the lectures were boring and it was a rehash. Bad, bad student.) I read it everywhere because I can’t stop. This book has adventure, mystery, romance, danger, myths and everything you’d possibly want. The secrets just kept on coming and I was not ready for any of them. One moment you’d think you got it all figured out but the next thing, boom, Elizabeth has dropped another bombshell and you’d have to form your theory again. Until the very end of the book, you don’t know (well at least I don’t know) what’s the actual deal. This makes for a great reading experience because I was always on edge. So it goes to say that the pacing was extremely well thought out and was gripping.
The book alternates every chapter or every few chapters from the present day (Hester) and 1872/1873 (Syrenka). This totally works because I am so invested in both timelines. Elizabeth Fama writes both time frames convincingly that it was not jarring to read. Even Pastor McKee’s scottish accent was just awesome! Admittedly, I was suffering from Pitying-the-Other-Guy syndrome as I was feeling so bad for Peter yet falling in love with Ezra. Another fictional man. What is happening to my life? Ezra is a naturalist and of course, being a scientist made me relate to him and his unquenchable thirst for knowledge. Syrenka’s life was so poignant, especially at the prologue with Pukanokick. It was heartbreaking and at the same time that you’re feeling pity for her, you know that she’s the one to blame. Actually, everyone’s life was bittersweet or, as Syrenka pointed out, sweet-bitter. Hester was relatable to me, even if I question her actions at times. Just not a fan of her sorta insta-love with Ezra though if you’ve read the book, it makes sense. Peter took a backseat and wasn’t fleshed out but I do understand as he’s not too integral to the story than say the other characters. Linnie seriously creeped the hell out of me. There’s a particular scene, or for me, two scenes (or maybe three or four, depending on your iffy meter), that might be icky or a dealbreaker with others. This is not some fluffy, light stuff guys. It dabbles with death, soul, life, power, revenge and everything in between.
Anyway, I don’t think I can write a review that will give this book justice as I was actually at a loss for words when I finished it. Just see for yourself how Elizabeth Fama went from I-don’t-know-her to will-definitely-read-all-of-her-books for me and how I just gained another mermaid novel I love. Or how YOU will gain a mermaid novel that you’ll love. Or how YOU will get lost in this world and with these characters. Read for yourself. :)
Thank you to Farrar, Straus and Giroux for giving Precious of Pinoy Book Tours an ARC which on the long run, came to me, that I was able to read this. Thank you, most of all, to Elizabeth Fama for writing a tale so exquisite. I love you all! <3
(Sorry if my thoughts are all over the place. That’s good, right? When you read a book and your mind can’t catch up with all that it’s thinking. Heehee.)