Wednesday, June 10, 2015
Monstrous Beauty - by Elizabeth Fama
Monstrous Beauty tells the story of the mermaid Syrenka as she falls in love with Ezra in the year 1872. Then we jump forward over one hundred years to the story of Hester Goodwin who happens to meet a man named Ezra in a cave by the beach. The book alternates between the past and present, telling the story of these two women. Syrenka is a mermaid who has known love, as well the consequences, before and is ready to become mortal to safely remain with Ezra as his wife.
Seventeen year old Hester is trying to avoid love at all costs because she doesn't want to continue the pattern of grief that has plagued her family for as long as she can remember. Hester's mother and the other women in her family have all died within days of giving birth to a daughter. Hester plans to break this chain of death my never falling in love, but she begins to reconsider when she meets Ezra. She also begins to realize that these deaths might not be caused by a genetic condition, as she had believed, but by something more sinister.
I have to say that overall, Fama wrote an excellent novel. The transitions between the past and the present flowed very smoothly, although I think I actually preferred Syrenka's story and would have liked to learn more about her life. Hester's story starts to get more interesting towards the end of the book once she begins to question Ezra's mysterious life on the beach and how it might be connected to her own personal history. I also didn't realize mermaid books had taken off recently, so this is my first one and I love the mermaids Fama created. I've seen good mermaids and evil mermaids, but I think she finds a great balance between these two stereotypes. These mermaids are fierce and mysterious, with no set moral code. I wasn't expecting this novel to be so mature, since it is marketed as YA, but it's definitely great not only for older teens but also adults of any age. I listened to this as an audio book and I would definitely recommend experiencing Monstrous Beauty this way. The narrator was brilliant and really brings Fama's beautiful writing to life.
This is also my first review for summer reading! I'm participating in the summer reading program at summerreadingonline.blogpot.com so be sure to check it out. Even though Monstrous Beauty could fit into numerous categories from the challenges I'm going to use this for the audio book challenge.