Bonnie (A Backwards Story)'s Reviews > Monstrous Beauty

Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama
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Aug 24, 12

bookshelves: 2012, mermaids
Read from July 05 to 07, 2012

Today, Elizabeth Fama also stopped by A Backwards Story for a splashtastic interview! Check it out!

MONSTROUS BEAUTY is much darker than most mermaid novels and in this sense, feels more "real" to me than many other books in the genre. When you take the siren aspect of the lore into account, it's easy to recognize that mermaids aren't all the light, human-loving beings that tend to be at the forefront of our imaginations. Instead, they're wicked and deadly, with animalistic instincts that show that they're more beast than they are human. Their minds and emotions don't work the way a human's does, and Elizabeth Fama portrays their nature beautifully in her new novel.

The novel is chilling and hard to read at times, but never in a scary way. The procedure a mermaid must go through in order to become human or save one's life is horrific. There's also a short scene that involves rape, so between these two elements and the fact that the book is more...sensual, for lack of a better word, I would not recommend this book to a younger teen even though it's shelved in YA. The book really lives up to its name, and the mermaids are monstrous in a way I never felt when reading Zoraida Córdova's THE VICIOUS DEEP (Which I enjoyed, but didn't feel to be "vicious").

There's also a refreshing historical aspect to MONSTROUS BEAUTY that bridges two worlds, alternating between the past and events that occurred in 1872 with repercussions still existing in a more modern world. Fama never dates "modern day," so while it could be today, it could also be a couple of decades earlier--or later. She seamlessly weaves together a tragedy and creates a compelling mystery that's hard to put down.

Fama is so good at layers and bringing readers into her world that it was easy to feel invested in Syrenka's plight and all that she gave up, all that she goes through. I found myself wanting to dip back into the past every time I stepped once more into the present, though the present-day began to intrigue me more as the storyline progressed. The world-building is also stellar, full of Fama's own mermaid lore that is refreshingly unique.

I'm eager to read more books by Fama in the future and feel that it's one of the more well-written and compelling mermaid novels.
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Reading Progress

07/05/2012 page 10
3.0% "The Prologue is so sad!!"
07/05/2012 page 40
13.0% "On one of these evenings Ezra examined the sharp, bony-spined dorsal fin on her neck and upper back, the smaller, razor-sharp fins that followed the line of her thumb on the undersides of her wrists, and the webbing between her fingers."
07/05/2012 page 57
19.0% "That chapter ended on such a gross note, but the event that takes place also showcases the length a mer must go through in order to :-X"
07/07/2012 page 198
65.0% "*squelch* And I thought that other chapter ending was gross? So tame in comparison! I definitely approve of the term "Monstrous" in the title! THE VICIOUS DEEP didn't feel "vicious" but this certainly feels "monstrous!""

Comments (showing 1-12 of 12) (12 new)

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Alanna (The Flashlight Reader) Such a tease! I finally got approval on Netgalley so I can read it. Yay


Bonnie (A Backwards Story) YAY!!! I was lucky enough to receive it...long enough ago to be embarrassing since I only JUST read it. I really wanted to wait for Splash, though!

I can't wait for your thoughts!


Alanna (The Flashlight Reader) just downloaded it. starting it tonight! every review mentions how spooky it is. hope i can handle it. lol


Bonnie (A Backwards Story) I don't think it's spooky in the traditional sense so you probably can. If you're as squeamish as I am, there are some gross scenes, lol!


Alanna (The Flashlight Reader) I am a total wimp. This should be fun!


Bonnie (A Backwards Story) Me too!! This and FATHOMLESS are both so squicky at times, yet also so good! Then again, WAKING STORMS squicked me out, too, so I can't talk, lol!

But for MONSTROUS BEAUTY...the second time, I will say I made a noise in the break room and had co-workers hear me. LOL!


Gina (My Precious Blog) I thought this book was outstanding, brilliantly written and to say it was just about mermaids sells it short. It had so many elements to the story, when I listed them all I was very impressed. My favorite part was how the author brought everything together in the end. What a super plot line, premise and story!


Bonnie (A Backwards Story) Gina wrote: "I thought this book was outstanding, brilliantly written and to say it was just about mermaids sells it short. It had so many elements to the story, when I listed them all I was very impressed. M..."

I thought I touched on it a little in the review, but I must not have done a good job. I also reviewed this during Splash into Summer, so everything I reviewed focused more on the mermaid aspects and less on the whole.

I agree that the book was incredibly well-done. Very nuanced, with so many layers! I'm sorry I wound up selling it short to you! :(


Gina (My Precious Blog) No, not at all, that's not what I meant. I was just expanding on what you'd already written. I really enjoyed your review. You put many aspects of the book in words which I couldn't express. My review is pretty plain and simple.


Bonnie (A Backwards Story) Gina wrote: "No, not at all, that's not what I meant. I was just expanding on what you'd already written. I really enjoyed your review. You put many aspects of the book in words which I couldn't express. My..."

Oh, makes sense! I thought when you said 'sells it short,' you were mad that I hadn't gone further that direction. I misread :)

I'm going to be working with Elizabeth again for her upcoming blog tour. I'm so excited to promote her even further!


message 11: by Gina (My Precious Blog) (last edited Aug 29, 2012 09:22AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Gina (My Precious Blog) No, I'm not the type to get mad over a review. I'm very sorry. I feel badly when I write something which is misconstrued. I always enjoy reading your reviews, you have great insight and point out some things I didn't even quite pull together. I TOTALLY LOVED this book, not at first, though, it took me a while to warm up to the story. The ending was the best part! Can't wait for the blog tour and to see what everyone thinks about it. For me - top notch storyline/plot/premise. A mermaid book with so much more going on...


Bonnie (A Backwards Story) No worries! *hugs and loves* I just don't know how to read, not your fault at alllll ^.^

The book was so great, I agree! It took me a bit of time to slip into as well. I can't wait to see what else the author comes out with. I'm excited to see everyone's tour posts as well.

Saw a copy at the store yesterday. PRETTY!


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