Giselle's Reviews > Monstrous Beauty

Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama
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's review
Feb 08, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: arc, ebook

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 welcomes the old sea-folk lore, where mermaids are beautiful, perilous beasts who seduce and kill those who unfortunately come upon their waters. There is even mention of specific lore details such as the goddess Atargatis; I can't say I was extremely familiar with the mythology myself, but this book piqued my interest enough to have me browsing Wikipedia to learn more about it. It's a very fascinating subject with a lot of history and legends surrounding it. Though knowing absolutely nothing about the history of these sea creatures will not diminish your enjoyment of this book in the least, it's merely to say that it will increase your appetite for it. Rich imagery created by brilliant descriptions turns these mythical beings, as well as their underwater world, the villagers, the alternating time periods, all of it, into a strikingly picturesque tale. It may revolve around it, but the mermaids are not the only thing to look forward to in this novel; we have a cursed family, a love story, an enthralling history, and even a few ghosts.

Naturally, with such vicious creatures in our midst, we get a plot that is much darker than your usual paranormal mermaid novel. It's violent, gory at times, with scenes of horror and seduction that I would not normally expect from a YA novel, making me recommend this for more mature readers. I found these aspects really impacted the seriousness of the mermaid myth. They are not, in fact, sweet loveable creatures. They're manipulative, treacherous monsters who will make you look at The Little Mermaid in a whole new light.

Hester is dealing with a genetic defect that has killed all mothers in her family after they have given birth, but when she meets the mysterious Ezra, he helps her figure out some answers to this apparent curse. The mesmerizing manner this story is told keeps a perfect pace, constantly bringing us deeper into this fiercely gripping tale, never letting our attention falter. While Hester is delving farther into her unusual family history, we get thrown into the past where a passionate love story with mermaid Syrenka and her human lover unfolds. With the past and the present intertwining in more ways than one, this whirlwind romance quickly becomes a richly developed mystery. And even though I solved large parts of it long before Hester -- in some cases I even marveled at how easily she could have deciphered it if only she thought it through for a minute -- I still enjoyed the thrilling climax which is soon followed by a flawless ending.

Exciting, dark, and positively gorgeous, Monstrous Beauty has finally given me a mermaid book to rave about, throwing my expectations right out of the water (Ha! I made a pun!). A must read for those who would prefer their mermaid books in a more sinister tone.

An advance copy was provided by the publisher for review.

For more of my reviews, visit my blog at Xpresso Reads
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Reading Progress

February 8, 2012 – Shelved
February 8, 2012 – Shelved as: arc
February 8, 2012 – Shelved as: ebook
September 2, 2012 – Started Reading
September 2, 2012 –
19.0% "I am so liking this! (Which is saying a lot for me and a mermaid book!) But umm.. is this YA? O_O"
September 4, 2012 –
60.0% "This is so not the usual frou frou mermaid book! It's more like a dark, violent Gothic novel. No wonder I like it! :D"
September 4, 2012 –
71.0% "Dude! These evil bitches are eating hearts! That's awesome!"
September 4, 2012 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-22 of 22) (22 new)

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Kereesa Are you going to be reading this anytime soon? 90% is demanding I buy this right away, but I'd love to hear your opinion before convincing the other 10% :D

Giselle Haha well, I kind of got tired of mermaid books I haven't found one I really liked yet. But I was told this one would be the one from so many people. Seems like everyone's loving it. Anyways, I was planning to read it this week - it's actually my next read after my current book. I'll be starting it Monday I imagine.

Kereesa Woot! I await, patiently of course :P

Wendy Darling I am excited that you are enjoying it!

Giselle Yes! It's just so different and better than all the frou frou paranormal mermaid books.

message 6: by Rogier (new) - added it

Rogier Giselle wrote: "Yes! It's just so different and better than all the frou frou paranormal mermaid books."
ha ha

gr8 review

Giselle :D Thanks!

Janus the Erudite Artist really like this one too. It's definitely more sinister than the ones I've read before but this was just so awesome! :D

message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

Okay, we are book soulmates on this one too! I was worried after Stormdancer and Unspoken that I was going to have to drown you, but I guess not. LOL! *skips away whistling*

message 10: by Giselle (last edited Sep 05, 2012 05:12AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Giselle @Janus: I loved how dark it was! And the fact that it was the true mermaid lore and not those bizarre paranormal boy-maids.

@Kara: Oh you saw my Unspoken review *hides*

Stormdancer was rubbish! *runs away*

message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

Yes, I did. >.< Prepare to die. XD

Giselle Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.

message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

LOL! This is why you tweeted that. >.<

Giselle Bahaha yes. This is my thought process.

message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

I do that too quite often. It's good to be random. :)

Christina (A Reader of Fictions) Giselle wrote: "Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."

OMG, Giselle, I love you so much. That is THE BEST response ever.

message 17: by [deleted user] (new)

*sticks tongue out*

Christina (A Reader of Fictions) I love you too, Kara, but she won this round.

message 19: by [deleted user] (new)

I was going to post a witty GIF but photobucket is down. SO...EAT DIRT. LOL.

Giselle Bahaha. I love how this convo evolved!

message 21: by Christina (new)

Christina Wilder Badass, evil mermaids? Where do I sign up!?

Giselle Right? Who can't love this!?

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