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Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama
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Monstrous Beauty (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Elizabeth Fama

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191None63,394 (4.03)5
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Title:Monstrous Beauty
Authors:Elizabeth Fama
Info:Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (2012), Hardcover, 304 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
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Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama (2012)

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Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
Originally posted at Novel Reveries

Intriguing and treacherous. This is like "The Little Mermaid" with macabre elements of the mystical and paranormal variety. I love this book. I love it's uniqueness and it's horrifying descriptions. I love it's ability to cover both the beauty and the hideous aspects of "mermaids." I love the split timelines and plot lines and how they converge to fathom Hester's familial curse.

This book took me by surprise with it's brusqueness (considering that it is a young adult book) and I was pleased by how it breaks the genre mold. Love is still a driving factor in this book, but it's hemingway in how the author directs the story. To believe in love, Hester must find love. To find love, she must lose love. With an unknown mysterious macabre past, and a delicate fatal future, Hester must find a way to break the disease of a curse that is her soul.

Putting together the pieces of historical romance, mystery, fantasy, and the paranormal, Monstrous Beauty is writhing in dark transcendental passion.

First Line: "Syrenka wanted Pukanokick." (3)

Last Line: "Minutes later, the last evidence of her human existence danced up through the ocean as air bubles, softly breaking on the moonlit surface of the water." (295)
-----------

Quotes:

"She had dared to love, and she had lost everything." (8)

"How strange the world was, that a necklace should exist virtually forever, and a human life, worth so much more, should be short." (159) ( )
  Dnaej | Mar 14, 2014 |
Originally posted at Novel Reveries

Intriguing and treacherous. This is like "The Little Mermaid" with macabre elements of the mystical and paranormal variety. I love this book. I love it's uniqueness and it's horrifying descriptions. I love it's ability to cover both the beauty and the hideous aspects of "mermaids." I love the split timelines and plot lines and how they converge to fathom Hester's familial curse.

This book took me by surprise with it's brusqueness (considering that it is a young adult book) and I was pleased by how it breaks the genre mold. Love is still a driving factor in this book, but it's hemingway in how the author directs the story. To believe in love, Hester must find love. To find love, she must lose love. With an unknown mysterious macabre past, and a delicate fatal future, Hester must find a way to break the disease of a curse that is her soul.

Putting together the pieces of historical romance, mystery, fantasy, and the paranormal, Monstrous Beauty is writhing in dark transcendental passion.

First Line: "Syrenka wanted Pukanokick." (3)

Last Line: "Minutes later, the last evidence of her human existence danced up through the ocean as air bubles, softly breaking on the moonlit surface of the water." (295)
-----------

Quotes:

"She had dared to love, and she had lost everything." (8)

"How strange the world was, that a necklace should exist virtually forever, and a human life, worth so much more, should be short." (159) ( )
  Dnaej | Mar 14, 2014 |
My Opinion: I was quite impressed with this book as it was different from most other mermaid books out now. I tend to love mermaid books anyway, and this one was unique enough to really grab my attention. To begin with, it's written from the POV of two different female mermaids, one in our time (Hester) and one who lived one hundred and forty years ago (Syrenka)! Then we have poor Hester, whose family history shows that to fall in love means death. Since Hester thinks it's a family curse, she is determined never to fall in love, but as we all know, teenage hormones are not going to go along with that at all! First she starts having feelings for her neighbor and friend, Peter, and when she runs away from him, she runs smack dab into gorgeous Ezra on the beach! What's a girl to do? Then there's the weird happenings at the church and in the graveyard that I'm not even going to tell you about because I want them to be a surprise :)

All in all, I really enjoyed this book. Syrenka and Hester had very different voices and ways of talking so it was easy to switch back and forth between their POVs, which is always a plus. The characters were compelling, the pace of the book was spot on, and I definitely recommend it to all lovers of YA mermaid tales :D

I received a copy of this book free of charge from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion. ( )
  jwitt33 | Mar 13, 2014 |
This is a well written book and may even deserve a higher rating but I struggled through it. I think the reason why I struggled through it was the subject matter vs whether it was a good book. ( )
  TeamDewey | Feb 15, 2014 |
This is one of my favorite novels I've read in a long time. It's a twist on the Little Mermaid story set in Plymouth, Massachusetts that bounces back and forth between an old school gothic fairy tale set in the late nineteenth century and a modern YA ghost story. The part of the novel that takes place in the past is a lot more compelling, as Syrenka the mermaid is crazy-weird and the story feels timeless and creepy. The modern protagonist, Hester, is lovely, but I found myself trying to rush through her chapters to get back to Syrenka and her love, Ezra.

I think part of my problem with Hester's story was that there was too much dramatic irony--I knew what was going on with her from very early on and got tired of waiting for her to unravel the mystery that had already been spelled out in Syrenka's story. That, and the creatures and characters what/who felt creepy and inescapable in the 1800's feel a bit more like a video game task to be defeated when they are transferred into modern times.

I really did adore this book; I just wish the cold inevitability and hopelessness had carried throughout. I was hoping for something a little bit more along the lines of [b:Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell|14201|Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell|Susanna Clarke|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1327945902s/14201.jpg|3921305], I think.

So Little Sleeping ( )
  KateBond | Sep 20, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374373663, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:22:03 -0400)

In alternating chapters, tells of the mermaid Syrenka's love for Ezra in 1872 that leads to a series of horrific murders, and present-day Hester's encounter with a ghost that reveals her connection to the murders and to Syrenka.

(summary from another edition)

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