Customer Reviews for

Monstrous Beauty

Average Rating 4
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  • Posted March 18, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    I rarely ever listen to audio books instead of reading the actua

    I rarely ever listen to audio books instead of reading the actual books but I have been hearing such high praise for the audio book of Monstrous Beauty that I had to give it a try. In this paranormal novel, Elizabeth Fama creates a world where mermaids, ghosts, curses, and a 17 year old girl, Hester, who is the only one that can solve the mystery of the curse as well as unravel the paranormal world that has always been within her reach, are a part of this plot. While I did enjoy this novel, I have to say that if I read the book, I wouldn't have liked it as much as listening to it. I haven't always had the best of luck with mermaid novels but I have to say that with the combination of the entangled plot as well as the great narration, this novel marks the first mermaid novel I actually enjoyed. 
    Monstrous Beauty alternates between the past (the 1800s) and the present, between Syrenka and Hesther. Syrenka is the mermaid that wanted to be human so bad, to be loved, and to sacrifice her immortality for the one man that she loves. However for Hesther, given the family curse where the mother always dies after giving birth, is trying to stay far far away from love, romance, or anything close to it. I can't say I connected with both the characters much, Hesther annoyed me with the insta love (though if you read the book you would know why) and Syrenka does some things that I can't get past. So yea, both of these characters, while unique, didn't make me want to root for them. Secondary characters didn't leave an impression on me so I enjoyed this novel not for the characters, but for its plot. 
    The plot is mainly the mystery which was a great one. I was actually so confused at a certain point that I tried seeking out answers from the internet, but thanks to every review being spoiler free, I wasn't able to understand. I am so impatient I know! However towards the end, everything got cleared up and I actually gasped once or twice at the outcome of both of the character's stories. The unraveling of the mystery and plot is perfect for mystery fans, while at times you did figure some parts out before Hesther and felt frustrated that she didn't understand, other parts would be a total shock to you. I would definitely recommend this book, and specifically the audio book, to paranormal fans, ones who love mermaid novels and ones who have never read a mermaid novel. I have to point out that even with it being a mermaid novel the setting throughout most of the book is on land, but I actually preferred it that way. 

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  • Posted September 10, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I so wanted to love this book. I had really high expectations go

    I so wanted to love this book. I had really high expectations going in and maybe that's why I feel so let down after reading it. It felt like I was reading two separate books, one really well written and one that I could barely follow and that felt rushed. Monstrous Beauty is written in two parts the present and the past, the 1870's in alternating chapters. I completely understood what was going on in the past, everything followed a straight line and made perfect sense. Ezra Doyle, a bookish type who wanted to go to college rather than run the family shipping business came home from college to be with his dying father. While mourning his father's death, he occupied his time by drawing pictures of the abundant sea life on the Massachusetts shore. And there, he met and fell in love with a mermaid. A lot happens after that to make the present day story happen.

    Now, I realize if the story had been told completely in the past and then told completely in the present it might have lacked the suspense it did, but as it was, it was hard to believe that Hester could fall in love with a man she didn't know. Feel the force of an anger she felt towards him when she didn't know him and then suddenly feel this pull towards him that she couldn't deny. And with all the people that were intermarried and connected I had to draw a family tree to see who was who and if the boy that was in love with Hester wasn't a cousin or something. And then, there was that. Why have him be a love interest at all? She didn't return his feelings at all so why not just have him be a good friend or a best friend? He didn't need to be the unrequited love, it just didn't fit. I will say though, that towards the end of the book or the last third, by the time Hester is starting to put things together, the book seemed to gel or become more cohesive. It just felt like that first part of the book was too rushed and implausible.

    And then there's the characters. I easily liked the characters from the 1870's and felt I knew them well enough to get a feeling about them, at least, Sarah and Ezra. But I didn't like Hester at all. Not a bit. And when you can't connect with the main character, it makes it hard to connect to the story. In the end, she was noble and I liked her then, but I spent most of the book not liking her. Peter was such a side character I really didn't get to know him at all and there was Sam, her brother. At one point I had to go back and figure out who he was because there was so little mention of him.

    In all, this wasn't the best of the mermaid stories I've read this year. The mermaids are definitely scary and the type you want to avoid. If you like them more shark like and deadly, then this is your mermaid story. They are very non-human like. And very violent. And if you can get through the first shaky part of the story, then the rest of it is a decidedly different take on the mermaid lore.

    I received an ARC of this novel from the publishers Farrar, Straus and Giroux via NetGalley for review purposes. I was not compensated for my review. The opinions in this review are my own.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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