Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Monstrous Beauty

Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama

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.
-Plot summary borrowed from Goodreads

I've been waiting for this one for months! I was so excited for another mermaid story, and a serious, dark, and historical one to boot. So was it worth the wait?

Yes. I loved the edgier take on mermaids that Fama presents here- no shell bikinis for Syrenka! Instead, a wickedly long tail, razor sharp fins, and creeptastic eyes. I loved the overlapping past and present narratives, and the moody Massachusetts setting. There were also plenty of details to geek out about- Hester works in a living history village and a few pages snarkily rebuking teens in Pilgrim-speak, for instance, and I would love to get my hand on a copy of Ezra's lovingly described natural history notebook. Add in an unorthodox Scottish priest and a Tall Dark and Handsome and you've got a book I'll happily devour.

One word of caution for supernatural fans- I'm not sure how much of this was due to Fama's use of foreshadowing and dramatic irony, and how much of it is because I am a rabid fan of all things occult, but I got bored of understanding things chapters and chapters before Hester did. Could she really not piece together the truth of what was happening? And once one thing was revealed, couldn't she put more pieces together herself? *sigh*

Still, most of this book was intriguing and a pleasure to read, and even the paranormal romance aspect was handled well. Four stars.


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