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Monstrous Beauty

3.64  ·  Rating Details ·  3,920 Ratings  ·  817 Reviews
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 dra
Hardcover, 295 pages
Published September 4th 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
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Marina (Good Reads Mad Reads Radio) It is unfortunately, I was hoping for a sequel as well! but Dreadful Sorry by Kathryn Reiss is a sort of similar type of book no mermaids but I…moreIt is unfortunately, I was hoping for a sequel as well! but Dreadful Sorry by Kathryn Reiss is a sort of similar type of book no mermaids but I remembered it while reading this one and I read it like 9 years ago so i think it would be a safe bet if your looking for something else, hope that helps! (less)
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Community Reviews

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Wendy Darling
Take a photographic tour of the Monstrous Beauty world as Elizabeth Fama stops by The Midnight Garden to kick off her blog tour! Plus win a finished hardcover of the book.

It was a woman--as pale and luminescent as a ghost, with swirling white hair. Ezra startled, dropping his pencil into the water. Her face snapped toward him. Her eyes were too large, clear green, and had horizontal, slit-shaped pupils, reminiscent of an octopus.

Did your pulse quicken when you read that paragraph? Mine did! I
Sep 20, 2012 Catie rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Elizabeth Fama's Monstrous Beauty is a dark and twisted concoction of myth, curses, history, and murder. It is a piercing story about a mermaid who longs to love and a young girl who has discarded any hope of it. I haven't read many sea-folk lore, and so won't pretend to understand this "new" and "original" approach to the mermaid legend. The story is certainly mature, however, daring to be more graphic and seasoned (if you catch my meaning), than most young adult novels in the market. In fact, ...more
Feb 08, 2012 Giselle rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebook, arc
I have tried to read mermaid books - a new hype in today's YA market - and book after book I keep finding myself disappointed, realizing that these water beings are simply not my forte... until now. Is it the dark, twisted plot? Is it the violent, yet beautiful story? Is it the combination of local sea lore mixed with curses, murders, love, and horror? Let's just say, this is definitely more up my alley than the froufrou mermaid books that I have been using for kindling lately.

Monstrous Beauty w
Jan 08, 2012 shady rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012-faves
This review is also available over at my blog.


Part of my Mermaid Marathon, round two.

The year is 1872, and Syrenka, a mermaid, falls in love with the gorgeous Ezra, and makes the deadly decision to become mortal and live a life with him. Flash forward to almost 140 years later, Hester Goodwin meets a stranger with the same name, who seems to be living in a cave at the beach. In Hester's family, love has always lead to death. After the women in her family give birth to a
Jan 18, 2013 ♥Rachel♥ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to ♥Rachel♥ by: Arlene
Shelves: audio-book
Monstrous Beauty was disturbing, tragic and yet beautiful and hopeful.

Hester comes from a tragic line of women. Each mother in her family who’s given birth has dies within days of delivery. Hester’s mother, her grandmother, her great-grandmother, and so on. Hester believes this is some sort of genetic anomaly and the only way to avoid death is to avoid love, marriage and pregnancy. Little does she know that this affliction is anything but genetic but stems from something far more sinister. The
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,
Feb 06, 2012 Nafiza rated it it was ok
This is a mermaid story. Consider yourself warned. I have yet to read a mermaid story that I actually really, really liked. I was hoping to like this as much because it comes backed by our lovely Wendy but I think this is one of the few times our tastes will diverge. I found the novel strong, likable but ultimately stereotypical of all others that exist. It didn’t give me anything new but it was an entertaining read.

The writing is strong and smooth. I liked the characterizations and I thought th
Dec 02, 2011 Heidi rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Hester Goodwin is like any other teenage girl - she goes to school, she crushes on her best friend, she works weekends and summers at the Pilgrim village at her local community. However, the women in her family have suffered from a strange affliction: they all die within a few days of giving birth to a child. The idea that she might find love only to die scares Hester so badly that she decides she doesn't want to have a relationship, ever, but then she meets the odd, handsome Ezra, who encourage ...more
Cassi aka Snow White Haggard
Jul 31, 2012 Cassi aka Snow White Haggard rated it really liked it
When I first started Monstrous Beauty I was practically begging "please don't be just another paranormal romance, please!" Mermaids are probably my favorite mythical creature andI have long searched for a good mermaid story. Most mermaid books just don't work for various reasons.

When the book started I was worried. The book begins in 1872, following the mermaid Syrenka who has fallen in love with a human. The book gets really dark really quick, setting a tone that lasts throughout the novel. I l
Jan 15, 2013 Denisse rated it it was amazing
4.5 O___O Great! I really liked that we have alternate dates, present and 1973. The story is very good, but it is not a fairytale, the story is very dark, but also quite interesting. I recommend it, specially if you haven't read anything about mermaids :D

Me gusto mucho el tono de la novela, podía llegar a ser bastante oscuro.

Excelente historia, buenos personajes, buen ritmo, en fin, casi no tengo nada malo que decir. Puede que en los últimos capítulos bajara un poco la intensidad del libro pero
Apr 25, 2012 Crystal rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
Holey moley!! I had no clue that this book would A. be as creepy as it was and B. deal more with ghosts and history than actually mermaids. Yes the mermaids play a big part but the ghosts play an even bigger part in my opinion and it was pure brilliance on the authors part! This book was creepy, captivating and oh yeah not for the faint of heart. *hehe*

This book has two stories in it. One that dates back to 1872 and the other in 2011. Told in alternating chapters we get to see two very different
Oct 16, 2011 Coranne rated it it was amazing
Whew. This was an intense book- not what I expected at all. I think I am going to break this one down into a few parts:

The Cover:

Take a look at this cover- she is pretty right? Long blond hair, smoky eyes, doing her model thing. The first thing I want to say is- this cover is ALL WRONG. Don't get me wrong, this is a beautiful cover. But other than the fact that there is a blonde mermaid on the front on some rocks- it doesn't have much to do with the actual mermaid in the book. First of all- the
Mar 27, 2012 Arlene rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Arlene by: Crystal
Wow! Color me awed! Monstrous Beauty is a fantastic yet horror filled novel that’s filled with gorgeous prose. I was literally hypnotized for the entire story. I can’t wait to see what else Elizabeth Fama has up her sleeve because she truly delivered quality entertainment with Monstrous Beauty!

This story juxtaposes two different points in time including 1873 and the present. Fama transports her readers to Plymouth Plantation where a centuries old curse takes the life of a particular lineage of
Zemira (Kylo Ren fangirl) Warner
Here you go, guys! The first 'best-of-2016' book!

Wow. Can't believe this book was sitting on my shelf for almost 4 years before I read it. I've tried to read it a number of times, mostly during the summer, because of mermaids. Mermaids=Summer That was my logic which turned out being a huge mistake. I was expecting something light and this book was the opposite of that. But it's not depressing either. I picture this book as that perfect January day, when it's actually warm enough to get outside
Ava Oceana

I waited months for this book.

I feel really horrible about not liking MONSTROUS BEAUTY better. It was no doubt written beautifully, with an interestingly eery, gorgeous plot, and heart-wrenching scenes, but there were some things about it that took away from a 5-star rating.

Monstrous Beauty is split into three parts - Ezra in the 1870s, Syrenka in the 1870s, and present-day Hester. The three parts remain vastly different for me.

I absolutely adored Syrenka's story, and I enjoyed it even more w
Carol Saller
Oct 15, 2011 Carol Saller rated it it was amazing
[Disclosure: I had the good fortune to read this book before publication, since the author is a friend.]

Monstrous Beauty has all the ingredients to become a classic: complex characters, meticulous plotting, intelligent prose, and page-turning situations. The opening pages grabbed me by the throat—and by the heart—and kept me reading.

Syrenka is an original. No Disney mermaid, she is a true creature of the sea, animal-like in her instincts and morals. Her transition to human form is anguished and
Joy (joyous reads)
Mar 29, 2012 Joy (joyous reads) rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, net-galley
Well. That was unexpected.

Merfolks novels has never been my cup of tea; they almost, always manage to disappoint me. I've been staying clear of them just because I find it hard to summon enough interest to keep on reading. Imagine my surprise when Monstrous Beauty broke the mold.

The novel is rich in history, legend and myth - there's even ghost stories. I went into this book expecting the usual tales about forbidden love between humans and merfolks and yeah, it has those but outside of that ro
Lisa (Fic Talk)

How hard was it for me to come to this rating? Hard, I tell you. Hard. I completely loved this book, but it also completely devastated me. It was beautiful and dark, eerie and lush.

The writing was basically flawless for me. I could tell that the author really did some research on the topics that she was writing about. I could see what I was reading. I was transported to each setting and each time-frame.

You see, for me, Mermaids have always been known as evil sea creatures. They have. I grew up o
Jan 20, 2016 Dominique rated it really liked it
Shelves: e-reader, 2016, ya
It made her think about how recording information, ideas, and stories can collapse the time and space between the writer and the reader ... there was such romance in listening to voices of the past.

I loved this story! The romance was okay, Hester was okay, the intertwined stories were okay, but Syrenka was amazing! Syrenka is for me how mermaids should be, and I would love another book about Syrenkas past (besides the novella).
Aug 09, 2012 LiarLiar marked it as to-read
i like this cover than the new one
i don't know why but to me the old cover is more alluring
and it fits the title well :)
A mermaid fascinated by human, stalks him, falls in love with him and the human blinded by her beauty and simply fascinated stays close; then in the moment of heat, human gets pulled underwater, mermaid forgets he needs air to breathe and ends up killing him.

Oh no, that's not the spoiler for you, that's only the prologue. I should've known it wasn't a book for me right then, but I try not giving up a book before I read at least 100 pages of it. Monstrous Beauty is a love-story with a mysterious
Lisbeth Avery {Domus Libri}
I don't know what happened with me and Monstrous Beauty. We just didn't click at all. I understand why people like the book but I just don't feel it. Yes, the book is beautifully written but it's also just kinda... boring. Nothing really happens in the book except for different people feeling bad for themselves and people getting torn up.

While I understand the allure of the book, of the writing, I can't help but notice all the flaws and faults. The beautiful words and imagery are masking some pr

seriously! you tell me, which is the better one:


or the new one:

yeah, i thought so too. sure, both covers are oversexed as hell, the first one even more so, but you can't deny the brilliance and allure and atmosphericness of the first one.
Nov 25, 2011 Evie rated it it was amazing
Fabulous book. Mermaids + century old curse + ghosts + forbidden love. Do I need to say more?
Proper review to come closer to the publishing date.
Jan 14, 2012 Asheley rated it it was amazing
(a similar version of this review can be found here at Into the Hall of Books:

What an absolute treat to read Elizabeth Fama's MONSTROUS BEAUTY! This book is so well-conceived and so well-crafted that I struggle with my thoughts even now, and it has been days since I finished the story. There is so much going on inside of this book that at any given time, it seems like your head should be completely spinning, but it somehow all makes sense. Everything met
OK, so where do I even begin with this book... because I seriously LOVED IT!!! It's been awhile since I've read a book where I felt totally captivated, where I was basically hanging on every word, and the more I read the more obsessed and involved I became with the story and characters... But Monstrous Beauty single-handedly was able to wipe from memory many of my horrible experiences I've had lately with several YA books, and has restored my faith in the genre as a whole.

YEAH. It was THAT good.
"Enchanting and Original" Monstrous Beauty is one of those books that can shock you and entrance you at the same time. From the very first chapter the author exceeded my expectation. Be it when we are introduced to the characters or when they are put in difficult situations. Nothing went the way I expected and more than that it took turns I never would have imagined in a million years.

As a kid like all the kids my age I grew up watching Disney cartoons. I was so entralled by the magical world o
Harmony Beaufort
Jun 27, 2012 Harmony Beaufort rated it really liked it
Finally! If you follow me on twitter, you know about my quest to find a mermaid book that I actually liked and I have finally found the right now! Dangerous, dark, and sensual, Monstrous Beauty is not for the light-hearted but for lovers of amazing plot and prose!

Fama is the kind of author that messes with your head with her intricate plots and story-telling. The book is told in two different perspectives: Hester, who is living in the now and is convinced her family is cursed because every gener
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  • The Vicious Deep (The Vicious Deep #1)
  • Merrow
  • Breathless
  • Preloved
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  • Fathomless (Fairytale Retellings, #3)
  • Tides
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  • The Secret of the Emerald Sea
  • Promises (Syrenka, #1)
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  • Tangled Tides (The Sea Monster Memoirs, #1)
  • The Brides of Rollrock Island
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  • Blackwood
  • Forbidden Sea (Forbidden Sea, #1)
Elizabeth Fama is the author of Plus One (FSG, 2014), Monstrous Beauty (FSG, 2012), a YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults selection and Odyssey Award honor winner, and Overboard (Cricket Books, 2002), an ALA Best Books for Young Adults.

(You're absolutely welcome to follow me on Goodreads, but I won't seem very interesting as a reader here. While I'm an active lurker on GR, I keep all of my person
More about Elizabeth Fama...

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