Adopt an ARC! Check out this list! (PH Only)
  • ARC Review: Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
  • ARC Review: The Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver
  • Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
  • Review: Karmic Hearts by Jhing Bautista
  • Review: The Conspiration of the Universe by Kenneth Olanday

Monday, October 1, 2012

ARC Review: Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama

I've always been looking for something when I read novels about mermaids. They've always been portrayed as maidens seducing men and bringing them to their deaths. Same old, same old. There has to be more to a siren's story, and Elizabeth Fama wrote Syrenka's love story and it was quite different!

Title: Monstrous Beauty (Monstrous Beauty #1) by Elizabeth Fama
Pages: 304
Release Date: September 4th 2012
Published by: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Source: Book tour (thanks, PBT!)
Buy: Amazon | Book Depository


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.

Two stories spanning centuries unfold in this tale of love and the sacrifices one must make in order to achieve it. Syrenka's tale started in the 1500s, a mermaid who had loved and lost. She could not comprehend her difference from that of humans, and she had lost the love of her life as a result. Syrenka was given another chance, and this time she would do anything to be with her love. But humanity has a price, and she had promised far more than she can give. Syrenka walked on land, but someone who is bound to the sea can never escape from it and tragedy followed. Centuries later, seventeen year old Hester, whose family has experienced death every generation, is determined to not fall in love. She swore not experience what it's like to fall in love, never get married, never be with child, never die days after she has given birth to another daughter. But Hester met Ezra, and her lonely existence suddenly wants more. What she didn't know was that fateful meeting is the key to unlocking what happened in the past, and solving the mystery of the deaths in her family.

Hester's somber, pessimistic personality is a little familiar and easy to read into. I wasn't really drawn to her, but I can understand her a little bit. She has her own reasons for not wanting to end up like all the females in her family, and if death is a possible future for her, why even try to love? Little did Hester know that there is more to her aversion of making a family than she knew. And when she met a mysterious boy in a dark cave by the ocean, Hester's life slowly unfolded. The one thing that felt hurried for me was how Hester seemed to have fallen in love with Ezra. It contradicted all that she stood for initially. Why this boy? Why now? The change of heart felt too fast for me, although reasons were mentioned why that's the case. Despite that, Ezra and Hester's relationship was one of the very few things that made me smile in this book. Ezra's witty self was very entertaining.

You'll be a little familiar with the word tragedy by the time you're finished with this book. Syrenka's life had enough of it. What she wanted was simple, to be able to be with the one she loved. But Syrenka is a mermaid, and she was never going to walk on land and be with her human lover if she's not willing to make a sacrifice. I have to admit that I was horrified with the events that transpired in Syrenka's life. It was more than a tragedy. Her life has touched base with the most horrifying events you can think of. Syrenka's character is very different from that of Hester, and I definitely enjoyed reading about her more. She's passionate, beautiful, curious, spirited, full of spunk and she had a flare for life and getting what she wants to matter what. If your idea of a mermaid is that of Little Mermaid's Ariel, sweet, naive and too trusting, you might be a little overwhelmed with Syrenka. 

It's not easy to write a story going back and forth in time, if not handled properly it can confuse readers more than help give them clarity but surprisingly the way the story unfolded simultaneously was clear. Monstrous Beauty is a story filled with enough question and mystery that you'll find yourself asking a lot of whys and whats and how all of it is connected to each other, or if it's even connected at all. Readers, however, must keep track with so many characters and that might make them a little lost like I was. There was so much of them that played a vital role in making the story understandable and if you missed or forgot about them, you might need to re-read some parts to connect each clue, each character's past to get a clear picture of the whole tale.

I'm not quite sure how to classify Elizabeth Fama's story, or if it even needs classifying. It's a mix of the paranormal, mythological and mystery all combined in an inventive and certainly a darker, more mature, more sinister take in the tale of the mermaids. It's got a little bit of a kick in the heart, bittersweet and not exactly a happy read, but definitely something new. You think mermaids and ghosts do not mix? Read this book, and tell me what you think. There might be some part that might make a few people uncomfortable, but I maybe it's necessarily to deliver such a melancholic tale. Overall, this is an interesting read.

Monstrous Beauty is also available as an audiobook in Macmillan audio! If you're curious to know how it sounds like, listen to a preview below:

My rating
It just makes me wonder, what else is there to look forward to in the sequel?
Content (plot, story flow, character):

Okay: Worthy of a Goddess' Love!

Book Cover:
I loved the final version of the cover.


  1. You know, I've never read a mermaid story. Thanks for the review!

  2. I'm absolutely intrigued about mermaid/siren legend but I've never found a mermaid book that I've enjoyed. This one may actually be something I would like. You describe it as being very dark and sinister which immediately piques my interest. Plus the bit about Syrenka's choice having far reaching consequences that seem to have affected generations of her descendants sounds really interesting. I think I'm going to grab this one. Thanks for the wonderful review!

  3. This book was definitely an interesting one. Great review!

  4. I've read mixed reviews of this one so I'm hesitant of reading it. Thanks for your review! Maybe I'll give this a try.

  5. Ooooh, Kai, I'm listening to the audio excerpt as I write this ;D

    The book sounds AMAZING. But... someone told me something a little icky and I'm a little reticent. ANYWAY. OMG. This really does sound amazing. I LOVE how dark this sounds. AMAZING ♥

    1. There are parts that are hard to read (mostly because it's got an element of 'rape' here), but overall it's just a dark, sad love story. Very tragic.


I love getting comments from my readers and fellow bookworms, and I try my best to respond to all of them. Feel free to give me a piece of your thoughts. Also, this is an award-free blog. I simply don't have the time to highlight them anymore, but thank you for thinking of my blog!

Related Posts with Thumbnails