Monstrous Beauty

Monstrous Beauty
By Elizabeth Fama
To be Published on: August 2012
Published by: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Source: ATW Arc Tours

Summary Taken from Goodreads:

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.

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 tail is all wrong- she is described as having dolphin-like tail not a fish tail.  The mermaid herself is pretty, but seems to be brooding and lounging- nothing like the actual Syrenka.  I am not sure why it irks me so much, but I feel like the cover doesn't fit this book or do it justice.  It is a gorgeous cover, but I don't think it is the right cover for this book.

Characters and Plot:

Wow there are a lot of characters in this book.  I thought I would have trouble with keeping them all straight, and at the beginning- I did.  But as the characters started to tie together the past and the present, I was amazed how the author had created such a complex web of events and clues throughout the book.  This is not a book to read through quickly or when you are distracted.  The author uses a great deal of foreshadowing and hinting throughout her novel and then pulls everything together within the last 5 chapters.  This is a book that requires the commitment of the reader- because if you give up halfway through the book, you will miss the last quarter of the book where a significant amount of high action events are.

These are not Disney mermaids (think more Pirates of the Caribbean than Ariel if you have to have a Disney comparison).  Syrenka has feelings, but a large part of her is very wild and acts on instinct.  This is not a story I would recommend reading on a dark and stormy night (unless you enjoy being terrified- ha ha!)  I am admittedly a pansy, but man this story has some scary parts!  This is a mermaid story, but it is also a ghost story and a scary one at that.

The author has done a fabulous job with this novel.  I hope that when it comes out in August that you will take the time to read it- it is very different from a majority of books on the YA market.  It would appeal to females AND males (it is very romance light) and also people who do not typically read YA.  This was an impressive re-entry to the fiction world and I can't wait to see what will come next from this author.

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