Review: Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama

Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama

Published: September 4th 2012 by Macmillan Young Listeners/Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Format/Source: Audio CD borrowed from Cover2Cover
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.

In Goodreads, I tagged this book young adult, mystery, paranormal and historical fiction. I felt a little ridiculous tagging this book with so many genres, but I can’t say that I’m incorrect. Monstrous Beauty is a book that cannot fall into any one particular category. And that is why I love it.

There’s mermaids and ghosts, myths and curses. I found myself sitting in my car for longer just to listen to more of the story. The third person perspective spared me from teenage angst, and I found that I was not making fists against the main character which is a huge improvement compared to some other books. While I could guess some of the mechanics of the mystery, I found myself still surprised by the full story and liked that it required some thought to full understand. It’s a multi-layered story, taking place in two different time periods, with connections that help the mystery slowly unravel.

I highly recommend it to those who appreciate young adult books but desire something that stands apart from some of the worn territory of the genre.

My rating: 5/5

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