Book Review: Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama

Rating: StarStarStar

Genre: Young Adult > Fantasy > Mermaids

Challenge: Pinoy Book Tours ARC Tour

(Monstrous Beauty #1)

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.


My second mermaid book and it was a little better than Lies Beneath (IMO). Monstrous Beauty is just that. Gory. Monstrous. Fetching. Beautiful.

Told in alternating POVs, between 1872/1873 (Syrenka & Ezra) and current time (Hester), and I truly enjoyed Syrenka’s/Ezra‘s more. Their story is fuller, richer than Hester‘s detective skills (in history) and cold-shoulder tactics (keeping everyone she loves at a distance).

The mermaid tale? It was particularly terrifying and mesmerizing at the same time. Story flow was consistent; Characters were accordant to their nature.

My issue with it? Ghosts. Somehow, I found it misplaced with the mermaid plot. The story around mermaids was complicated enough; the paranormal element made it difficult for me to appreciate Monstrous Beauty‘s authenticity as a whole.

Monstrous Beauty is a page-turner. And I might say that I am looking forward to reading more of Fama’s vengeful sea creatures. Oh yes, I am. 😀

Publisher:  Macmillan

Imprint: Farrar, Straus and Giroux BYR

Pub Date: 09/04/2012

Thank you Kai and Precious of Pinoy Book Tours!


2 thoughts on “Book Review: Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama

  1. This is one of my favorite books I’ve read in a while.. 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.

  2. Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama is just the mermaid story I’ve been waiting for. Intricate and well-planned, Fama’s plotlines weave in and out of past and present beautifully, telling a story that is much more dark and dangerous than I expected.

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