Available: Amazon; Goodreads
I know it’s a little strange to review a mermaid novel during October. But when the book also involves a curse and ghosts, it fits right along with the season. I feel extremely ashamed that aside from The Little Mermaid fairy tale, I had not read a mermaid story and I absolutely adore the legend and mystery behind them. When I was little, I used to imagine I was a mermaid searching for my one true love amongst the waves of my own bathtub. Hey, a girl had to have dreams, haha!
I discovered Elizabeth Fama’s book Monstrous Beauty in my library’s mobile app and after reading the description, I HAD to borrow it. It took me around a day and a half, a bowl of chocolate ice cream, and tissues to get through this story. I can’t remember the last time I cried this much during a book and it’s mainly because of the tragedy behind the love story.
Goodreads Description: “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.”
The story bounces back and forth between the nineteenth century to now. Syrenka’s tale is heart wrenching to the point where you wish you could give her a giant hug. The story opens with her falling in love for the first time with a sailor who eventually ends of drowning when Syrenka was merely trying to make him able to swim under water. It all seems to continue to go up and down from there like the waves of a sea.
We fast forward to Hester who keeps her distance from any possible relationship due to the fact every woman in her family dies quickly after the birth of theor first born daughters. I have a small problem with Hester. I can understand why she’d be afraid of beginning a relationship but the fact she won’t have one because of the curse is beyond me. She says in the beginning that birth control isn’t a sure way of not getting pregnant and she didn’t want to take the risk. There are other ways you can protect yourself, Sweety.
She is rude to every guy she comes across, including her best friend Peter who clearly cares about her and would do anything for her. I’m completely shocked he stayed by her, she treats him like dirt half the time while stares at him longingly from the side lines. Pick a side, Hester! Then she meets Ezra and tosses it all out the door.
Another thing, Hester has a hard time piecing together obvious problems that are practically screaming at her! Girl needs to get lessons from Sherlock because she’s clueless half the time. And it’s bad when the ghosts figure out and have to spell everything out for her in order for her to fully get the picture.
On the other hand, I have to give props to the author who dug deep into the origins of Plymouth, people’s speech and dress in the nineteenth century, and the accuracy behind the myths of the sea creatures. She rightfully earned the Book Charm of Learning with this book. I became solely enamored with the depth of Syrenka and Ezra’s story from its abrupt beginnings to it’s sorrowful end.
The whole set up of the town, the reenactment village Hester works at, even the ghosts who haunt the grounds deserves more books or even a television show. It made me want to discover more about it! Plus, I’ve already come up with a “Dream Cast” for the book, it’s that good!
If you enjoy legends of mermaids, ghosts, curses, or historical facts – pick this up right away!
My Rating: 7 out of 10 Book Charms
Happy October Reading!