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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.

Published: Macmillan Publishers on Sep 4, 2012
ISBN: 9781429955461
List price: $7.09
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I've had a mission this year. I wanted to find good mermaid books - because I grew up watching The Little Mermaid, dang it and I wanted some good Ariel-vibes in the books I read.So when Monstrous Beauty came up, and I saw the glowing ratings it was getting, I allowed myself to feel hope. Not all the mermaid books I've read have been bad (The Forbidden Sea by Sheila Nielson was fantastic) - but I wanted something a little more mature.Well, I definitely got mature in Monstrous Beauty.First, the good things. Finally, a mermaid scenario that makes sense; I always wondered logistics and how they fit into myth/legend. A prologue that gave me chills. A perfect mix of paranormal and fantasy. A nice little mystery, and some freakishly creepy elements. All these things made up something that, aside from one nagging detail, could be in my top two YA reads of the year. I loved the details about Hester as well. She was strong, independent, a go-getter, and honestly ... her job cracked me up. It was so entertaining I found myself wanting to read more of what it was like to be at work. That's talent, people!The mystery was okay - I mean, once things really got going it wasn't hard to figure out - the hard part was trying to see how it would all fit together. I'm normally not a big mystery person so this wasn't as big of a deal to me.And the mermaids - they were fantastic. Every bit as chilling as I believe mermaids to be - from the jagged rows of teeth to the bloodthirstiness of certain ones. I was entranced and found myself wishing I could go lay on a rock and just wait for them to come to me by the sea.Now - that nagging detail. There's a rape in this book. And while I was surprised at the level of detail (it's not super detailed, but a little more graphic than I'm used to seeing in YA fiction), I was more concerned at how it was not addressed. At all. I mean, it's there basically as a plot device - and that disappointed me. I mean, really? Using a rape as the means to make sure your heroine ends up where you want her to be? I'm not going to rant. I'm not. But I will say I'm very tired of seeing rape bandied about and then not addressed after the fact. It leaves lasting effects on women, people. Mythical or not. I'll get off my soapbox now.So - the only thing keeping this from five stars is that detail. That's it. The rest of the story? Fantastic. I plan to read it again - but this time I'll just skip the scene that bugs the bejeebus out of me.read more
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Guys, it's books like this that keep me reading YA paranormal stuff. Stunningly wrought and carefully crafted, "Monstrous Beauty" is a feast for the senses, and quite the teaser for the brain. I don't even know where to begin talking about how much I loved this book. If you like paranormal romance and historical fiction, you simply must read this book.I guess I'll start with the sensory imagery/language area, as that's the one that blew me away the most (along with the mystery tangled within the plot). Fama brings all of the Plymouth area of Massachusetts to life in all time periods - from the prologue in the 1500s, to Syrenka's misadventures with Ezra and the townspeople in the 1870s, to our current time. I could smell the food, feel the spray of the sea on my skin and the itch of Hester's heavy wool pretend-Puritan skirt, taste the salt of the ocean on my tongue, hear the ghosts and their pleas for help. Everything just felt so real, so solid, and everything is minutely detailed. Nothing is left to chance, everything is described in gorgeous terms. This ties into the worldbuilding, which was also excellent - while the 1500s were a little blurrier than Syrenka and Ezra's time and our current time, everything was still built up wonderfully. The creepy church and crypt and graveyard just added to this book's strange charm, and absolutely cast a spell over me. It felt 100% real.The plot: While some may get dizzied by the switching time periods and points of view, stick with it. The two puzzles that Hester and Syrenka, in their separate time periods, must unravel are very intricate and complicated. I'd have to call this the relationship web school of plot, if anything - everyone is related to everyone else, and ties back into the world that Fama has created. The relationship web is VERY important when it comes to Hester's puzzle, and later in the book, to Syrenka's. It turns into a whodunnit tale, a chain of love, murder, and revenge, of men and monsters. Absolutely delicious all the way. (And the scene in the underwater nursery? Gave me the chills. WONDERFUL.)The characters: I LOVED Syrenka. I wanted to give her a hug and be her bff. Not even kidding. She may be a monster, the truest kind of mermaid (or merrow, depending on which mermaid myth you subscribe to) - seducing men into their deaths, in order to get souls of their own - but she's trying to become human. The Sea Witch was disgusting but so real that I had at least one nightmare about her. And the ghosts of everyone felt like real people until we get each and every single Big Reveal about who they really are, and how they relate to one another in the relationship web. Each character gets their own journey arc, no matter how small (yes, even the ghosts), and we get to see the results in the explosive ending. Hester was great, and slipping into her skin was extremely easy. She felt like a real, modern girl, and she's a very sympathetic character that I think a lot of readers will be able to relate to. I could keep going on, but I won't. All of this book is beautiful. While I still might have had a question or two at the end of the book, I didn't care if I got the answer because I was just so stunned at how complete the ending felt like. Fans of traditional YA PNR may not be able to relate to this one as much as Fama takes the magical realism school of literary fiction more than your normal YA PNR story - just a warning, but keep trying anyway. The ending is well worth it. "Monstrous Beauty" will be out from Macmillan in North America on September 4th, so be sure to check it out then. Its place on my best of 2012 so far list is well-deserved indeed, and it's definitely worth the read.(posted to goodreads, shelfari, librarything, and birthofanewwitch.wordpress,com)read more
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This was an unexpected read. I was thinking, supernatural romance with mermaids and a little mystery and suspense, sounds fun. And this book had all that and more. A lot more. When you can use the words quadruple mermaid murder-suicide to describe the plot, that says something. This book was more violent than I expected but not gratuitously so. The action was woven very well between the two story lines, Hester in modern day Plymouth and Sarah in 19th century Plymouth. The mix of all the elements could have been convoluted but instead work really well together. Just be prepared.read more
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Oh. My. Goodness. Go ahead and slap yourself now. This book is phenomenal. It’s almost beyond words. It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of books featuring mermaids, but this book broke all the molds. It defied all my expectations. I was expecting something like a love story with a little under the sea action, but that is not what I got. What I did find is a fantastic story that had mermaids, an evil sea witch, ghosts, and true love. Wow x 3. Yep, I said ghosts and mermaids. Epicness. The way the alternating points of view intermingled was amazing. To flip from a story set in 1873 to present day—and to do it flawlessly—was fantastic. I loved every page. EVERY PAGE! And the last few chapters were intense. Speaking of intense, there is this one scene that made my stomach lurch. OMGoodness. It was so awful. It still haunts me. I honestly don’t know what to say about this book. Read it. That’s all I can say. Read it and love it. Enjoy its epicness. Savor the mystery and the haunting romance of star-crossed lovers. Devour every page. You’ll want this one on your keeper shelf.read more
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I so wanted to love this book. I had really high expectations going in and maybe that's why I feel so let down after reading it. It felt like I was reading two separate books, one really well written and one that I could barely follow and that felt rushed. Monstrous Beauty is written in two parts the present and the past, the 1870's in alternating chapters. I completely understood what was going on in the past, everything followed a straight line and made perfect sense. Ezra Doyle, a bookish type who wanted to go to college rather than run the family shipping business came home from college to be with his dying father. While mourning his father's death, he occupied his time by drawing pictures of the abundant sea life on the Massachusetts shore. And there, he met and fell in love with a mermaid. A lot happens after that to make the present day story happen.Now, I realize if the story had been told completely in the past and then told completely in the present it might have lacked the suspense it did, but as it was, it was hard to believe that Hester could fall in love with a man she didn't know. Feel the force of an anger she felt towards him when she didn't know him and then suddenly feel this pull towards him that she couldn't deny. And with all the people that were intermarried and connected I had to draw a family tree to see who was who and if the boy that was in love with Hester wasn't a cousin or something. And then, there was that. Why have him be a love interest at all? She didn't return his feelings at all so why not just have him be a good friend or a best friend? He didn't need to be the unrequited love, it just didn't fit. I will say though, that towards the end of the book or the last third, by the time Hester is starting to put things together, the book seemed to gel or become more cohesive. It just felt like that first part of the book was too rushed and implausible.And then there's the characters. I easily liked the characters from the 1870's and felt I knew them well enough to get a feeling about them, at least, Sarah and Ezra. But I didn't like Hester at all. Not a bit. And when you can't connect with the main character, it makes it hard to connect to the story. In the end, she was noble and I liked her then, but I spent most of the book not liking her. Peter was such a side character I really didn't get to know him at all and there was Sam, her brother. At one point I had to go back and figure out who he was because there was so little mention of him.In all, this wasn't the best of the mermaid stories I've read this year. The mermaids are definitely scary and the type you want to avoid. If you like them more shark like and deadly, then this is your mermaid story. They are very non-human like. And very violent. And if you can get through the first shaky part of the story, then the rest of it is a decidedly different take on the mermaid lore.I received an ARC of this novel from the publishers Farrar, Straus and Giroux via NetGalley for review purposes. I was not compensated for my review. The opinions in this review are my own.read more
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Elizabeth Fama uses the backdrop of Plymouth, Massachusetts and its rich history as the setting for her mermaid tale, Monstrous Beauty. Syrenka is a mermaid who leaves her life in the oceans deep for life with her beloved Ezra. Hester, with her love of history, has resigned herself to life without love rather than face an early and tragic death, as every other woman in her family. Through Hester’s historical research and interactions with the mysterious Ezra, the connection between the two women quickly unfolds. Secrets unravel, tragedy blossoms, and suddenly Hester is forced to choose between the life she expected versus the life she now wants.Monstrous Beauty successfully flips back and forth between Syrenka and Ezra’s story and Hester’s, while the setting does so much to link the stories. It is a lot easier to imagine the possibility of mythical sea creatures in one of the first towns ever settled in America than it would be in something more modern and less connected to its historical roots. Each switch in time and character point of view is well-executed and clearly documented, so that there is no confusion by the reader. Confusion occurs elsewhere in the story but is never a result of the change in setting. Rather, the associated points between the two time periods, especially the physical locations, create a continuity to the story that does much to build that sense of antiquity and longevity that is essential to the overall story.One of the story’s main flaws is the fact that Monstrous Beauty follows the same template as other popular fantasy young adult novels with very little variation. The girl falls inexplicably and instantly in love with a mysterious stranger. The parents are on the fringes of the story. The girl is extremely pragmatic and level-headed as compared to others her age. There is a best friend who complicates the perceived love triangle. Mystical things happen that make no sense until she opens her mind to the possibilities of magic around her. It is a successful template, which is why authors continue to use it. However, after years of the same, one wishes for something a bit more drastically different.Another flaw is just how long it takes Hester to unravel the truth. For someone so intelligent and quick to solve historical puzzles, which is mentioned and shown by her actions several times throughout the story, she remains particularly dense when it comes to her own personal historical puzzle. It is frustrating for a reader to know the full mystery but have to continue to read as the heroine fumbles her way to the solution for many more pages. That sense of being in on the secret that works well in other mysteries is decidedly absent in Monstrous Beauty, and after a while, the entire plot becomes exasperating to the point of absurdity.Yet, even when a reader is at one’s most aggravated, one cannot help but sympathize with Hester and marvel at her ability to continue to keep her head when a situation is at its craziest. Some young adult heroines all but lose their minds, or at least become act completely different, once the love interest enters the picture. Hester does this to some extent but not only does she recognize this, she actually takes pains to try to stop doing so. She feels guilty that she is not acting like herself and understands that her actions are somehow wrong. It is the one refreshing breath of change in an otherwise well-trodden plot path.One cannot discuss Monstrous Beauty without discussing the mermaids. Syrenka and her sisters are more reminiscent of the mermaid depiction in the Harry Potter series than of The Little Mermaid. For some reason, or maybe because of their more feral, more animalistic portrayals, they are more realistic. Unfortunately, Ms. Hama does not spend a lot of time discussing their origins or history, and the story is the loser for this omission. A reader wants to know more about how their hierarchy, their magical abilities, the structure of their society. While a reader can understand that one’s lack of knowledge mirrors Hester’s own, some of the dangers and other scenarios in which Syrenka and then Hester find themselves would appear more dangerous and stressful to the reader if one had full knowledge of the mermaids and their rules.Monstrous Beauty is a fast-paced revamp of the traditional mermaid myth. Even while it remains a beautiful story about sacrifice and love, the novel has decidedly darker, rather horrific undertones that remind readers that these mermaids are not the Disney version. These are creatures that are more similar to sharks and other sea-going predators than they are to humans. Therein lies their attraction though too. While much of the story follows a similar pattern as other fantasy YA novels in recent years, the few differences that exist make Monstrous Beauty enjoyable even as it remains somewhat forgettable.Acknowledgments: Thank you to NetGalley and to Macmillan Children's Publishing Group for my e-galley!read more
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Quick & Dirty: This novel will appeal to readers looking for more literary young adult novels with strong characters and high stakes that have a twist of the terrifying paranormal. The Review: Monstrous Beauty isn’t Disney’s The Little Mermaid. Here the underwater sirens are dangerous, seductive creatures who kill mortals that stumble upon them. Because Fama’s using folk lore, the story has darker undertones than other mermaid books on the shelf today. The story alternates POVs between the seductive Syrenka in the eighteen hundreds and Hester in modern times, threading together stories about cursed family and lost-love into such a complex chain the reader hardly knows what it is they want to happen. The novel’s violent—borderline gory in places—and harsh. Fama doesn’t pull her punches when is comes to the hard stuff. There’s a horror aspect to Fama’s novel that I’m not used to seeing in YA, but will definitely appeal to mature readers who want a serious paranormal. Because Fama is constantly changing the POV of the novel, you’re pulled into the story from different angles, past and present, right and wrong. Helen is trying to deal with a genetic defect in her family—none of the females survive giving birth—and how that will impact her future. Just when she convinces herself she could be happy without love, she meets the mysterious Ezra down on the beach. As Ezra helps her figure out her family’s curse, the story of Syrenka and her human lover unfolds through the chapters, a dark and deeply developed mystery evolves. The best part about Monstrous Beauty’s small cast of character is that by the time you reach the end all your first impressions (and second and third) have flown out the window. Like real people, these characters are more than you first see or expect. There were some points where a close reader could see the end coming, the predictability being the novel’s main drawback. If Hester had just taken a minute to think everything through…well, it would have been a much shorter novel. The problem with having a predictable plot is that it also makes me reconsider the intelligence of the characters. It’s always easier to see things coming when you’re reading about it from the outside, but sometimes I really wonder how a heroine failed to see the end coming. The writing was so phenomenal, however, that I almost didn’t care about the predictable plot. I can’t believe this is only Fama’s second novel. The way she strings sentences together, with perfect word choice bringing everything to life, was awing. I sank immediately into the village, the sea, our narrators. Her writing makes all the sinister aspects more immediate, all the stakes seem dearer, and every character more precious. Monstrous Beauty is a chilling novel in many respects. Far more like a young adult literary novel than I’m used to seeing in the paranormal genre.read more
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Wow. It's been quite some time since I've read a book so well written. Elizabeth Fama truly is a master of words - her writing is evocative and aware and thoughtful. She is a real story teller. Somehow she managed to create this vivid, tangled-up plot, and sympathetic, captivating characters that added even more life to an already beautiful story.

I absolutely loved the mermaid lore in this book. Fama hearkens back to the original mermaids: animal-like creatures with vicious pointy teeth, who seduce and murder their land-dwelling neighbors. Those who lived in this little fishing town were terrified of the sea folk and made no attempts to hide it. Monstrous Beauty was way more than just a mermaid book though; there is romance and a century old curse, a little bit of sleuthing, and some ghost. It seems like it could be all over the place with that many ingredients, but they are all pulled together so perfectly and unexpectedly.

There is a wonderful, colorful cast of characters, each fleshed out and unique to each other. But my favorite character by far was Ezra, the young man who fell in love with the mermaid Syrenka. I loved how inquisitive he was, and how much he adored and admired Syrenka. He was open and accepting and I believe he truly loved her. He did what he could to protect her and save her, and in the end payed the ultimate price. When he comes back to modern times and meets Hester, I love him just the same. It is his innocence and his openness that draws me to him.

The only character I couldn't really connect to was Hester. I didn't really feel like I got to know her. The only things I do know about her are her family curse and that she likes history. The rest is pretty much just a blank slate. I can't really pin down her motivations, besides to keep the plot moving. She was very closed-off from the people around her, and in turn to the reader, even if it was told in first person. The plot and the other characters, though, we well enough to make me keep reading.

Monstrous Beauty is not your typical mermaid book. I wouldn't even call it your typical YA book. There is paranormal romance to be sure, but it is like no paranormal romance you've seen before. The sea folk of this book are beautiful, brutal monsters. And with well-rounded, lovable characters, and a complex and enthralling plot, Monstrous Beauty is a must read for lovers of magic, romance and the gray areas between good and evil.read more
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Monstrous Beauty is a wonderfully gothic story--romance, tragedy, some horror, a smidgen of gore/violence, doomed lovers, curses, ghosts, hauntings. Delicious! I love this kind of stuff!! Plus, it's original. I haven't encountered anything quite like it. Great mythology, nice use of language. There's an interesting historical (and geneological) element to it, as Hester goes through microfilmed newspapers, looks at gravestones, etc to uncover the past. A sense of foreboding pervades the story and helps to create suspense. Though not every revelation is a surprise, I still found myself impelled to find out what was going on and uncover mysteries. I feel I should warn you that there is one rape scene. It's brief, it's not graphic, but it does happen.read more
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When Syrenka, a young, headstrong mermaid falls in love with Ezra, a human, she gives up her life in the sea to be with him. She doesn't realize that this decision will prove deadly. More than a century later, Hester meets a young man named Ezra and is immediately drawn to him. The bond is so strong, it's almost as if she can't stay away from him. The problem for Hester is that there's a curse on her family and the women always seem to die once they fall in love. Hester is determined to find out the reason, but what she doesn't realize is just how dangerous searching for answers will be.I must admit that I've always been a little indifferent about mermaids, but I loved the original story of The Little Mermaid. As of late, I really haven't fallen in love with any of the mermaid books I have read. While I wasn't totally in love with this one either, I will admit that it did hold my attention. There's a great mix of mystery, action, ghosts and romance to keep things interesting. The mystery surrounding Hester's family curse intrigued me. There are a lot of characters in this book (mermaids, humans and ghosts in two different time periods), but for the most part, I was able to keep up with who was who.The writing is very fluid, though it did seem to drag in parts. Ms. Fama's style is perfectly suited to this story. Somehow she managed to make it feel as if I were floating peacefully in the water while reading. It just had that atmosphere, and I didn't realize it until about halfway through the book. Another thing that Ms. Fama pulls off well is alternating between two time periods without losing the reader, or breaking up the flow of the story.With an elegant writing style, Ms. Fama has written an engaging mystery. It will definitely appeal to fans of romance, mermaids and deep family secrets.read more
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I read this in a single morning - it was so good, I didn't want to put it down. Loved the historical fiction/fantasy blending. The mermaid culture was well thought out and plenty creepy. Everything moved really fast plotwise; you have to be on your toes to keep up.

Disclosure - I know Elizabeth Fama online a little bit; we've worked together on a couple of blog posts.read more
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With all the amazing books coming out lately, I am especially excited about this one. I love a good mermaid story that has a special twist on it.What I enjoyed most about this book is the great back round history to it. Stories that flow back to the past, leaving the reader piece by pieces only intrigued me more. I love seeing the present as well as getting that flashback to the past matching it with what is going on today. Lots of the back round history in the book has affected generation after generation. It's good to see one person in the family seeking out the answers that were never found.With that said, the plot twist in the book is awesome. Most mermaid stories follow the same rules, but this world played by their own rules. I enjoyed the different circumstances of being a mermaid. The consequences that followed them is harsh. Yet, as the reader, all I wanted to do is bring them some kind of peace.The love interest as well played out differently than what I thought. Unique and entertaining, I was no other but hooked to follow to the end. I am amazed of how well the past flowed to the future. It weaved beautifully, leaving me giddy.Monstrous Beauty is a an well constructed story. Beautifully woven, Monstrous Beauty is written wonderfully. The stunning world building with great plot, Monstrous Beauty is great.read more
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Add this one to the list of really good mermaid books! This story moves around through time and one needs to pay attention to the chapter titles which tell us when we are. The prologue introduces us to Syrenka who is a mermaid. She is fascinated with humans and spends a lot of time observing them. But she learns that she is dangerous to the creatures she observes. Then the story shifts to the present and introduces Hester who is a seventeen-year-old history buff who is determined never to fall in love, marry and have children. She is afraid that she has a hidden genetic fault that would cause her to die after having a baby. After all, her mother and grandmother died shortly after they had their first child. She has a best friend named Peter who, I think, would like to be a boyfriend. I am not quite sure if Hester realizes this and is ignoring it or whether she is genuinely oblivious to his feelings. The old story tells about Ezra, budding naturalist, meeting Syrenka and falling in love with her in 1872. But local fishermen warn him away from her because of a long history of fishermen dying after interacting with those sea creatures. Ezra ignores the advice. When Syrenka is caught in a fisherman's net and Ezra almost drowns, Syrenka is attacked by the fisherman but kills him and becomes human. She has a baby and tries to give it to the sea but the baby is found by the widow of the fisherman she kills. Ezra and Syrenka, who has taken the name Sarah, marry but the widow of the fisherman is jealous of her and tries to convince the local pastor to perform an exorcism which goes incredibly wrong. In the present, Hester meets Ezra in a sea cave and develops an incredible attraction to him that causes her to do some uncharacteristic things like stealing a rare book from the library and stealing an old doll from a historical museum. This story is a mystery as Hester tries to learn about her family's past and the curse that is on it.I thought the whole mythology about mermaids and the curse was well-done. I found the end of the story to be very intense. I think my students who like romance, paranormals, and interesting characters will enjoy this story.read more
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Monstrous Beauty is a story about mermaids, but probably not like what you're thinking. In this book, the mermaids are generally dark and vicious, even when they don't mean to be. Also, there are vengeful ghosts.I keep trying to find a good angle from which to summarize the plot of this book, and I can't seem to do it. There are two interwoven stories, one in the present and one in the past, and of course the events in the past have a great deal of impact on the events in the present. The intricacy of the plot is a testament to the quality of the writing -- I didn't get lost or bogged down in reading it. There were a few things that were a little difficult to buy (the romance, for one -- I'm getting awfully picky about the romantic plots in books, aren't I?), and I think most readers will see certain twists coming before the main character does, but that's all part of the fun.I realize this is a pretty vague review, but if you think complicated plots involving vicious mermaids and unquiet spirits might be your thing, this book is for you.read more
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This book started off very promising. Its alternating present day and historical chapters really kept me turning the pages. But at one point, when the past and present began to collide, the story line became a little hard to follow and convoluted. I wonder if it might be a little overly complicated for a teen audience...The characters too were far more mature than the teens I've seen in other teen fiction. This title could have easily been marketed as an adult book. Despite its shortcomings though, this book wins points with me for having well developed characters and for the author's ability to interweave so many different kinds of the supernatural. And I'll take a mermaid over a vampire any day!read more
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Wow. It's been quite some time since I've read a book so well written. Elizabeth Fama truly is a master of words - her writing is evocative and aware and thoughtful. She is a real story teller. Somehow she managed to create this vivid, tangled-up plot, and sympathetic, captivating characters that added even more life to an already beautiful story.

I absolutely loved the mermaid lore in this book. Fama hearkens back to the original mermaids: animal-like creatures with vicious pointy teeth, who seduce and murder their land-dwelling neighbors. Those who lived in this little fishing town were terrified of the sea folk and made no attempts to hide it. Monstrous Beauty was way more than just a mermaid book though; there is romance and a century old curse, a little bit of sleuthing, and some ghost. It seems like it could be all over the place with that many ingredients, but they are all pulled together so perfectly and unexpectedly.

There is a wonderful, colorful cast of characters, each fleshed out and unique to each other. But my favorite character by far was Ezra, the young man who fell in love with the mermaid Syrenka. I loved how inquisitive he was, and how much he adored and admired Syrenka. He was open and accepting and I believe he truly loved her. He did what he could to protect her and save her, and in the end payed the ultimate price. When he comes back to modern times and meets Hester, I love him just the same. It is his innocence and his openness that draws me to him.

The only character I couldn't really connect to was Hester. I didn't really feel like I got to know her. The only things I do know about her are her family curse and that she likes history. The rest is pretty much just a blank slate. I can't really pin down her motivations, besides to keep the plot moving. She was very closed-off from the people around her, and in turn to the reader, even if it was told in first person. The plot and the other characters, though, we well enough to make me keep reading.

Monstrous Beauty is not your typical mermaid book. I wouldn't even call it your typical YA book. There is paranormal romance to be sure, but it is like no paranormal romance you've seen before. The sea folk of this book are beautiful, brutal monsters. And with well-rounded, lovable characters, and a complex and enthralling plot, Monstrous Beauty is a must read for lovers of magic, romance and the gray areas between good and evil.read more
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I've had a mission this year. I wanted to find good mermaid books - because I grew up watching The Little Mermaid, dang it and I wanted some good Ariel-vibes in the books I read.So when Monstrous Beauty came up, and I saw the glowing ratings it was getting, I allowed myself to feel hope. Not all the mermaid books I've read have been bad (The Forbidden Sea by Sheila Nielson was fantastic) - but I wanted something a little more mature.Well, I definitely got mature in Monstrous Beauty.First, the good things. Finally, a mermaid scenario that makes sense; I always wondered logistics and how they fit into myth/legend. A prologue that gave me chills. A perfect mix of paranormal and fantasy. A nice little mystery, and some freakishly creepy elements. All these things made up something that, aside from one nagging detail, could be in my top two YA reads of the year. I loved the details about Hester as well. She was strong, independent, a go-getter, and honestly ... her job cracked me up. It was so entertaining I found myself wanting to read more of what it was like to be at work. That's talent, people!The mystery was okay - I mean, once things really got going it wasn't hard to figure out - the hard part was trying to see how it would all fit together. I'm normally not a big mystery person so this wasn't as big of a deal to me.And the mermaids - they were fantastic. Every bit as chilling as I believe mermaids to be - from the jagged rows of teeth to the bloodthirstiness of certain ones. I was entranced and found myself wishing I could go lay on a rock and just wait for them to come to me by the sea.Now - that nagging detail. There's a rape in this book. And while I was surprised at the level of detail (it's not super detailed, but a little more graphic than I'm used to seeing in YA fiction), I was more concerned at how it was not addressed. At all. I mean, it's there basically as a plot device - and that disappointed me. I mean, really? Using a rape as the means to make sure your heroine ends up where you want her to be? I'm not going to rant. I'm not. But I will say I'm very tired of seeing rape bandied about and then not addressed after the fact. It leaves lasting effects on women, people. Mythical or not. I'll get off my soapbox now.So - the only thing keeping this from five stars is that detail. That's it. The rest of the story? Fantastic. I plan to read it again - but this time I'll just skip the scene that bugs the bejeebus out of me.
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Guys, it's books like this that keep me reading YA paranormal stuff. Stunningly wrought and carefully crafted, "Monstrous Beauty" is a feast for the senses, and quite the teaser for the brain. I don't even know where to begin talking about how much I loved this book. If you like paranormal romance and historical fiction, you simply must read this book.I guess I'll start with the sensory imagery/language area, as that's the one that blew me away the most (along with the mystery tangled within the plot). Fama brings all of the Plymouth area of Massachusetts to life in all time periods - from the prologue in the 1500s, to Syrenka's misadventures with Ezra and the townspeople in the 1870s, to our current time. I could smell the food, feel the spray of the sea on my skin and the itch of Hester's heavy wool pretend-Puritan skirt, taste the salt of the ocean on my tongue, hear the ghosts and their pleas for help. Everything just felt so real, so solid, and everything is minutely detailed. Nothing is left to chance, everything is described in gorgeous terms. This ties into the worldbuilding, which was also excellent - while the 1500s were a little blurrier than Syrenka and Ezra's time and our current time, everything was still built up wonderfully. The creepy church and crypt and graveyard just added to this book's strange charm, and absolutely cast a spell over me. It felt 100% real.The plot: While some may get dizzied by the switching time periods and points of view, stick with it. The two puzzles that Hester and Syrenka, in their separate time periods, must unravel are very intricate and complicated. I'd have to call this the relationship web school of plot, if anything - everyone is related to everyone else, and ties back into the world that Fama has created. The relationship web is VERY important when it comes to Hester's puzzle, and later in the book, to Syrenka's. It turns into a whodunnit tale, a chain of love, murder, and revenge, of men and monsters. Absolutely delicious all the way. (And the scene in the underwater nursery? Gave me the chills. WONDERFUL.)The characters: I LOVED Syrenka. I wanted to give her a hug and be her bff. Not even kidding. She may be a monster, the truest kind of mermaid (or merrow, depending on which mermaid myth you subscribe to) - seducing men into their deaths, in order to get souls of their own - but she's trying to become human. The Sea Witch was disgusting but so real that I had at least one nightmare about her. And the ghosts of everyone felt like real people until we get each and every single Big Reveal about who they really are, and how they relate to one another in the relationship web. Each character gets their own journey arc, no matter how small (yes, even the ghosts), and we get to see the results in the explosive ending. Hester was great, and slipping into her skin was extremely easy. She felt like a real, modern girl, and she's a very sympathetic character that I think a lot of readers will be able to relate to. I could keep going on, but I won't. All of this book is beautiful. While I still might have had a question or two at the end of the book, I didn't care if I got the answer because I was just so stunned at how complete the ending felt like. Fans of traditional YA PNR may not be able to relate to this one as much as Fama takes the magical realism school of literary fiction more than your normal YA PNR story - just a warning, but keep trying anyway. The ending is well worth it. "Monstrous Beauty" will be out from Macmillan in North America on September 4th, so be sure to check it out then. Its place on my best of 2012 so far list is well-deserved indeed, and it's definitely worth the read.(posted to goodreads, shelfari, librarything, and birthofanewwitch.wordpress,com)
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This was an unexpected read. I was thinking, supernatural romance with mermaids and a little mystery and suspense, sounds fun. And this book had all that and more. A lot more. When you can use the words quadruple mermaid murder-suicide to describe the plot, that says something. This book was more violent than I expected but not gratuitously so. The action was woven very well between the two story lines, Hester in modern day Plymouth and Sarah in 19th century Plymouth. The mix of all the elements could have been convoluted but instead work really well together. Just be prepared.
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Oh. My. Goodness. Go ahead and slap yourself now. This book is phenomenal. It’s almost beyond words. It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of books featuring mermaids, but this book broke all the molds. It defied all my expectations. I was expecting something like a love story with a little under the sea action, but that is not what I got. What I did find is a fantastic story that had mermaids, an evil sea witch, ghosts, and true love. Wow x 3. Yep, I said ghosts and mermaids. Epicness. The way the alternating points of view intermingled was amazing. To flip from a story set in 1873 to present day—and to do it flawlessly—was fantastic. I loved every page. EVERY PAGE! And the last few chapters were intense. Speaking of intense, there is this one scene that made my stomach lurch. OMGoodness. It was so awful. It still haunts me. I honestly don’t know what to say about this book. Read it. That’s all I can say. Read it and love it. Enjoy its epicness. Savor the mystery and the haunting romance of star-crossed lovers. Devour every page. You’ll want this one on your keeper shelf.
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I so wanted to love this book. I had really high expectations going in and maybe that's why I feel so let down after reading it. It felt like I was reading two separate books, one really well written and one that I could barely follow and that felt rushed. Monstrous Beauty is written in two parts the present and the past, the 1870's in alternating chapters. I completely understood what was going on in the past, everything followed a straight line and made perfect sense. Ezra Doyle, a bookish type who wanted to go to college rather than run the family shipping business came home from college to be with his dying father. While mourning his father's death, he occupied his time by drawing pictures of the abundant sea life on the Massachusetts shore. And there, he met and fell in love with a mermaid. A lot happens after that to make the present day story happen.Now, I realize if the story had been told completely in the past and then told completely in the present it might have lacked the suspense it did, but as it was, it was hard to believe that Hester could fall in love with a man she didn't know. Feel the force of an anger she felt towards him when she didn't know him and then suddenly feel this pull towards him that she couldn't deny. And with all the people that were intermarried and connected I had to draw a family tree to see who was who and if the boy that was in love with Hester wasn't a cousin or something. And then, there was that. Why have him be a love interest at all? She didn't return his feelings at all so why not just have him be a good friend or a best friend? He didn't need to be the unrequited love, it just didn't fit. I will say though, that towards the end of the book or the last third, by the time Hester is starting to put things together, the book seemed to gel or become more cohesive. It just felt like that first part of the book was too rushed and implausible.And then there's the characters. I easily liked the characters from the 1870's and felt I knew them well enough to get a feeling about them, at least, Sarah and Ezra. But I didn't like Hester at all. Not a bit. And when you can't connect with the main character, it makes it hard to connect to the story. In the end, she was noble and I liked her then, but I spent most of the book not liking her. Peter was such a side character I really didn't get to know him at all and there was Sam, her brother. At one point I had to go back and figure out who he was because there was so little mention of him.In all, this wasn't the best of the mermaid stories I've read this year. The mermaids are definitely scary and the type you want to avoid. If you like them more shark like and deadly, then this is your mermaid story. They are very non-human like. And very violent. And if you can get through the first shaky part of the story, then the rest of it is a decidedly different take on the mermaid lore.I received an ARC of this novel from the publishers Farrar, Straus and Giroux via NetGalley for review purposes. I was not compensated for my review. The opinions in this review are my own.
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Elizabeth Fama uses the backdrop of Plymouth, Massachusetts and its rich history as the setting for her mermaid tale, Monstrous Beauty. Syrenka is a mermaid who leaves her life in the oceans deep for life with her beloved Ezra. Hester, with her love of history, has resigned herself to life without love rather than face an early and tragic death, as every other woman in her family. Through Hester’s historical research and interactions with the mysterious Ezra, the connection between the two women quickly unfolds. Secrets unravel, tragedy blossoms, and suddenly Hester is forced to choose between the life she expected versus the life she now wants.Monstrous Beauty successfully flips back and forth between Syrenka and Ezra’s story and Hester’s, while the setting does so much to link the stories. It is a lot easier to imagine the possibility of mythical sea creatures in one of the first towns ever settled in America than it would be in something more modern and less connected to its historical roots. Each switch in time and character point of view is well-executed and clearly documented, so that there is no confusion by the reader. Confusion occurs elsewhere in the story but is never a result of the change in setting. Rather, the associated points between the two time periods, especially the physical locations, create a continuity to the story that does much to build that sense of antiquity and longevity that is essential to the overall story.One of the story’s main flaws is the fact that Monstrous Beauty follows the same template as other popular fantasy young adult novels with very little variation. The girl falls inexplicably and instantly in love with a mysterious stranger. The parents are on the fringes of the story. The girl is extremely pragmatic and level-headed as compared to others her age. There is a best friend who complicates the perceived love triangle. Mystical things happen that make no sense until she opens her mind to the possibilities of magic around her. It is a successful template, which is why authors continue to use it. However, after years of the same, one wishes for something a bit more drastically different.Another flaw is just how long it takes Hester to unravel the truth. For someone so intelligent and quick to solve historical puzzles, which is mentioned and shown by her actions several times throughout the story, she remains particularly dense when it comes to her own personal historical puzzle. It is frustrating for a reader to know the full mystery but have to continue to read as the heroine fumbles her way to the solution for many more pages. That sense of being in on the secret that works well in other mysteries is decidedly absent in Monstrous Beauty, and after a while, the entire plot becomes exasperating to the point of absurdity.Yet, even when a reader is at one’s most aggravated, one cannot help but sympathize with Hester and marvel at her ability to continue to keep her head when a situation is at its craziest. Some young adult heroines all but lose their minds, or at least become act completely different, once the love interest enters the picture. Hester does this to some extent but not only does she recognize this, she actually takes pains to try to stop doing so. She feels guilty that she is not acting like herself and understands that her actions are somehow wrong. It is the one refreshing breath of change in an otherwise well-trodden plot path.One cannot discuss Monstrous Beauty without discussing the mermaids. Syrenka and her sisters are more reminiscent of the mermaid depiction in the Harry Potter series than of The Little Mermaid. For some reason, or maybe because of their more feral, more animalistic portrayals, they are more realistic. Unfortunately, Ms. Hama does not spend a lot of time discussing their origins or history, and the story is the loser for this omission. A reader wants to know more about how their hierarchy, their magical abilities, the structure of their society. While a reader can understand that one’s lack of knowledge mirrors Hester’s own, some of the dangers and other scenarios in which Syrenka and then Hester find themselves would appear more dangerous and stressful to the reader if one had full knowledge of the mermaids and their rules.Monstrous Beauty is a fast-paced revamp of the traditional mermaid myth. Even while it remains a beautiful story about sacrifice and love, the novel has decidedly darker, rather horrific undertones that remind readers that these mermaids are not the Disney version. These are creatures that are more similar to sharks and other sea-going predators than they are to humans. Therein lies their attraction though too. While much of the story follows a similar pattern as other fantasy YA novels in recent years, the few differences that exist make Monstrous Beauty enjoyable even as it remains somewhat forgettable.Acknowledgments: Thank you to NetGalley and to Macmillan Children's Publishing Group for my e-galley!
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Quick & Dirty: This novel will appeal to readers looking for more literary young adult novels with strong characters and high stakes that have a twist of the terrifying paranormal. The Review: Monstrous Beauty isn’t Disney’s The Little Mermaid. Here the underwater sirens are dangerous, seductive creatures who kill mortals that stumble upon them. Because Fama’s using folk lore, the story has darker undertones than other mermaid books on the shelf today. The story alternates POVs between the seductive Syrenka in the eighteen hundreds and Hester in modern times, threading together stories about cursed family and lost-love into such a complex chain the reader hardly knows what it is they want to happen. The novel’s violent—borderline gory in places—and harsh. Fama doesn’t pull her punches when is comes to the hard stuff. There’s a horror aspect to Fama’s novel that I’m not used to seeing in YA, but will definitely appeal to mature readers who want a serious paranormal. Because Fama is constantly changing the POV of the novel, you’re pulled into the story from different angles, past and present, right and wrong. Helen is trying to deal with a genetic defect in her family—none of the females survive giving birth—and how that will impact her future. Just when she convinces herself she could be happy without love, she meets the mysterious Ezra down on the beach. As Ezra helps her figure out her family’s curse, the story of Syrenka and her human lover unfolds through the chapters, a dark and deeply developed mystery evolves. The best part about Monstrous Beauty’s small cast of character is that by the time you reach the end all your first impressions (and second and third) have flown out the window. Like real people, these characters are more than you first see or expect. There were some points where a close reader could see the end coming, the predictability being the novel’s main drawback. If Hester had just taken a minute to think everything through…well, it would have been a much shorter novel. The problem with having a predictable plot is that it also makes me reconsider the intelligence of the characters. It’s always easier to see things coming when you’re reading about it from the outside, but sometimes I really wonder how a heroine failed to see the end coming. The writing was so phenomenal, however, that I almost didn’t care about the predictable plot. I can’t believe this is only Fama’s second novel. The way she strings sentences together, with perfect word choice bringing everything to life, was awing. I sank immediately into the village, the sea, our narrators. Her writing makes all the sinister aspects more immediate, all the stakes seem dearer, and every character more precious. Monstrous Beauty is a chilling novel in many respects. Far more like a young adult literary novel than I’m used to seeing in the paranormal genre.
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Wow. It's been quite some time since I've read a book so well written. Elizabeth Fama truly is a master of words - her writing is evocative and aware and thoughtful. She is a real story teller. Somehow she managed to create this vivid, tangled-up plot, and sympathetic, captivating characters that added even more life to an already beautiful story.

I absolutely loved the mermaid lore in this book. Fama hearkens back to the original mermaids: animal-like creatures with vicious pointy teeth, who seduce and murder their land-dwelling neighbors. Those who lived in this little fishing town were terrified of the sea folk and made no attempts to hide it. Monstrous Beauty was way more than just a mermaid book though; there is romance and a century old curse, a little bit of sleuthing, and some ghost. It seems like it could be all over the place with that many ingredients, but they are all pulled together so perfectly and unexpectedly.

There is a wonderful, colorful cast of characters, each fleshed out and unique to each other. But my favorite character by far was Ezra, the young man who fell in love with the mermaid Syrenka. I loved how inquisitive he was, and how much he adored and admired Syrenka. He was open and accepting and I believe he truly loved her. He did what he could to protect her and save her, and in the end payed the ultimate price. When he comes back to modern times and meets Hester, I love him just the same. It is his innocence and his openness that draws me to him.

The only character I couldn't really connect to was Hester. I didn't really feel like I got to know her. The only things I do know about her are her family curse and that she likes history. The rest is pretty much just a blank slate. I can't really pin down her motivations, besides to keep the plot moving. She was very closed-off from the people around her, and in turn to the reader, even if it was told in first person. The plot and the other characters, though, we well enough to make me keep reading.

Monstrous Beauty is not your typical mermaid book. I wouldn't even call it your typical YA book. There is paranormal romance to be sure, but it is like no paranormal romance you've seen before. The sea folk of this book are beautiful, brutal monsters. And with well-rounded, lovable characters, and a complex and enthralling plot, Monstrous Beauty is a must read for lovers of magic, romance and the gray areas between good and evil.
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Monstrous Beauty is a wonderfully gothic story--romance, tragedy, some horror, a smidgen of gore/violence, doomed lovers, curses, ghosts, hauntings. Delicious! I love this kind of stuff!! Plus, it's original. I haven't encountered anything quite like it. Great mythology, nice use of language. There's an interesting historical (and geneological) element to it, as Hester goes through microfilmed newspapers, looks at gravestones, etc to uncover the past. A sense of foreboding pervades the story and helps to create suspense. Though not every revelation is a surprise, I still found myself impelled to find out what was going on and uncover mysteries. I feel I should warn you that there is one rape scene. It's brief, it's not graphic, but it does happen.
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When Syrenka, a young, headstrong mermaid falls in love with Ezra, a human, she gives up her life in the sea to be with him. She doesn't realize that this decision will prove deadly. More than a century later, Hester meets a young man named Ezra and is immediately drawn to him. The bond is so strong, it's almost as if she can't stay away from him. The problem for Hester is that there's a curse on her family and the women always seem to die once they fall in love. Hester is determined to find out the reason, but what she doesn't realize is just how dangerous searching for answers will be.I must admit that I've always been a little indifferent about mermaids, but I loved the original story of The Little Mermaid. As of late, I really haven't fallen in love with any of the mermaid books I have read. While I wasn't totally in love with this one either, I will admit that it did hold my attention. There's a great mix of mystery, action, ghosts and romance to keep things interesting. The mystery surrounding Hester's family curse intrigued me. There are a lot of characters in this book (mermaids, humans and ghosts in two different time periods), but for the most part, I was able to keep up with who was who.The writing is very fluid, though it did seem to drag in parts. Ms. Fama's style is perfectly suited to this story. Somehow she managed to make it feel as if I were floating peacefully in the water while reading. It just had that atmosphere, and I didn't realize it until about halfway through the book. Another thing that Ms. Fama pulls off well is alternating between two time periods without losing the reader, or breaking up the flow of the story.With an elegant writing style, Ms. Fama has written an engaging mystery. It will definitely appeal to fans of romance, mermaids and deep family secrets.
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I read this in a single morning - it was so good, I didn't want to put it down. Loved the historical fiction/fantasy blending. The mermaid culture was well thought out and plenty creepy. Everything moved really fast plotwise; you have to be on your toes to keep up.

Disclosure - I know Elizabeth Fama online a little bit; we've worked together on a couple of blog posts.
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With all the amazing books coming out lately, I am especially excited about this one. I love a good mermaid story that has a special twist on it.What I enjoyed most about this book is the great back round history to it. Stories that flow back to the past, leaving the reader piece by pieces only intrigued me more. I love seeing the present as well as getting that flashback to the past matching it with what is going on today. Lots of the back round history in the book has affected generation after generation. It's good to see one person in the family seeking out the answers that were never found.With that said, the plot twist in the book is awesome. Most mermaid stories follow the same rules, but this world played by their own rules. I enjoyed the different circumstances of being a mermaid. The consequences that followed them is harsh. Yet, as the reader, all I wanted to do is bring them some kind of peace.The love interest as well played out differently than what I thought. Unique and entertaining, I was no other but hooked to follow to the end. I am amazed of how well the past flowed to the future. It weaved beautifully, leaving me giddy.Monstrous Beauty is a an well constructed story. Beautifully woven, Monstrous Beauty is written wonderfully. The stunning world building with great plot, Monstrous Beauty is great.
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Add this one to the list of really good mermaid books! This story moves around through time and one needs to pay attention to the chapter titles which tell us when we are. The prologue introduces us to Syrenka who is a mermaid. She is fascinated with humans and spends a lot of time observing them. But she learns that she is dangerous to the creatures she observes. Then the story shifts to the present and introduces Hester who is a seventeen-year-old history buff who is determined never to fall in love, marry and have children. She is afraid that she has a hidden genetic fault that would cause her to die after having a baby. After all, her mother and grandmother died shortly after they had their first child. She has a best friend named Peter who, I think, would like to be a boyfriend. I am not quite sure if Hester realizes this and is ignoring it or whether she is genuinely oblivious to his feelings. The old story tells about Ezra, budding naturalist, meeting Syrenka and falling in love with her in 1872. But local fishermen warn him away from her because of a long history of fishermen dying after interacting with those sea creatures. Ezra ignores the advice. When Syrenka is caught in a fisherman's net and Ezra almost drowns, Syrenka is attacked by the fisherman but kills him and becomes human. She has a baby and tries to give it to the sea but the baby is found by the widow of the fisherman she kills. Ezra and Syrenka, who has taken the name Sarah, marry but the widow of the fisherman is jealous of her and tries to convince the local pastor to perform an exorcism which goes incredibly wrong. In the present, Hester meets Ezra in a sea cave and develops an incredible attraction to him that causes her to do some uncharacteristic things like stealing a rare book from the library and stealing an old doll from a historical museum. This story is a mystery as Hester tries to learn about her family's past and the curse that is on it.I thought the whole mythology about mermaids and the curse was well-done. I found the end of the story to be very intense. I think my students who like romance, paranormals, and interesting characters will enjoy this story.
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Monstrous Beauty is a story about mermaids, but probably not like what you're thinking. In this book, the mermaids are generally dark and vicious, even when they don't mean to be. Also, there are vengeful ghosts.I keep trying to find a good angle from which to summarize the plot of this book, and I can't seem to do it. There are two interwoven stories, one in the present and one in the past, and of course the events in the past have a great deal of impact on the events in the present. The intricacy of the plot is a testament to the quality of the writing -- I didn't get lost or bogged down in reading it. There were a few things that were a little difficult to buy (the romance, for one -- I'm getting awfully picky about the romantic plots in books, aren't I?), and I think most readers will see certain twists coming before the main character does, but that's all part of the fun.I realize this is a pretty vague review, but if you think complicated plots involving vicious mermaids and unquiet spirits might be your thing, this book is for you.
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This book started off very promising. Its alternating present day and historical chapters really kept me turning the pages. But at one point, when the past and present began to collide, the story line became a little hard to follow and convoluted. I wonder if it might be a little overly complicated for a teen audience...The characters too were far more mature than the teens I've seen in other teen fiction. This title could have easily been marketed as an adult book. Despite its shortcomings though, this book wins points with me for having well developed characters and for the author's ability to interweave so many different kinds of the supernatural. And I'll take a mermaid over a vampire any day!
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Wow. It's been quite some time since I've read a book so well written. Elizabeth Fama truly is a master of words - her writing is evocative and aware and thoughtful. She is a real story teller. Somehow she managed to create this vivid, tangled-up plot, and sympathetic, captivating characters that added even more life to an already beautiful story.

I absolutely loved the mermaid lore in this book. Fama hearkens back to the original mermaids: animal-like creatures with vicious pointy teeth, who seduce and murder their land-dwelling neighbors. Those who lived in this little fishing town were terrified of the sea folk and made no attempts to hide it. Monstrous Beauty was way more than just a mermaid book though; there is romance and a century old curse, a little bit of sleuthing, and some ghost. It seems like it could be all over the place with that many ingredients, but they are all pulled together so perfectly and unexpectedly.

There is a wonderful, colorful cast of characters, each fleshed out and unique to each other. But my favorite character by far was Ezra, the young man who fell in love with the mermaid Syrenka. I loved how inquisitive he was, and how much he adored and admired Syrenka. He was open and accepting and I believe he truly loved her. He did what he could to protect her and save her, and in the end payed the ultimate price. When he comes back to modern times and meets Hester, I love him just the same. It is his innocence and his openness that draws me to him.

The only character I couldn't really connect to was Hester. I didn't really feel like I got to know her. The only things I do know about her are her family curse and that she likes history. The rest is pretty much just a blank slate. I can't really pin down her motivations, besides to keep the plot moving. She was very closed-off from the people around her, and in turn to the reader, even if it was told in first person. The plot and the other characters, though, we well enough to make me keep reading.

Monstrous Beauty is not your typical mermaid book. I wouldn't even call it your typical YA book. There is paranormal romance to be sure, but it is like no paranormal romance you've seen before. The sea folk of this book are beautiful, brutal monsters. And with well-rounded, lovable characters, and a complex and enthralling plot, Monstrous Beauty is a must read for lovers of magic, romance and the gray areas between good and evil.
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