Hardcover, 304 pages
Published September 4th 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
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.
MONSTROUS BEAUTY by Elizabeth Fama is the newest novel based on Mermaid myth and history. It is a hauntingly romantic tale that is dark, mysterious and somber.
This story is told from two different perspectives from two points in time, both past and present. The main character in the past is Syrenka a mermaid whom longs to live in peace with the main she loves while the main character in the present is Hester determined to never fall in love. As their respective story's progress they interweave and conjoin, revealing tragic events that only Hester has the power to change.
Books based on Mermaid themes and lore have always held an allure for me, but it is a genre that is difficult to find a good read. MONSTROUS BEAUTY does a good job due to it's darker themed tone and attention to detail. It is highly apparent that the author took great care with research especially when it came to the historical aspects and Mermaid folklore of this story and I greatly appreciated it.
Although I enjoyed the darker edge that this story embodied I had issues with how this story finally ended and it left me a little sad. There was also a forcible violation that took me by surprise and while it was a pivotal point in this story I felt that I could have avoided witnessing it. Yet, on a whole I was intrigued and entertained by the mysterious nature of this story and how both points combined to create a truly unique novel.
MONSTROUS BEAUTY is a good paranormal tale for those that enjoy a story with a dark edge. A different take on the usual mermaid lore that you will surely remember.