Source: Purchased/Borrowed from Library
Edition: Hardcover, 295 Pages / Audiobook, 7 Hours
Narrator: Katherine Kellgren
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy/Horror
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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.
There are two paranormal creatures that I usually have a tough time reading about, Angels and Mermaids. It never fails that I end up either unimpressed, underwhelmed, or flat out frustrated when I read a book focusing on them…but not this time. Monstrous Beauty took the myth of the mermaid and kept it the way it should be, wild and untamable.
The story focuses on two different timelines and two different women. Hester is the present day main character, who meets Ezra in a cave on the beach and he sets her off on the path to find out more about her strange family lineage. Hester is quick tempered and super logical, making her a bit difficult to deal with at times but someone I could understand quite well. The other is Syrenka, a mermaid who despite all warnings fell in love with a human. I loved Syrenka’s personality and how completely untamable she seemed, she’s strong willed and utterly refuses to give up on the things she wants much to her detriment. These two women are separated by hundreds of years, but their stories are brilliantly intertwined creating a almost heart-wrenching tragedy that slowly unfolds.
I loved the use of the mythology in this one. The mermaids are fierce and despite their beauty can be downright horrific if needed, and that was a huge draw for me. I love when an author takes a creature that has been tamed and made approachable by others and turns them back into the monsters they once were. but despite their freedom there is a sadness about the creatures in this book. A fair bit of warning though, this book can get graphic at times and has a fair amount of cussing. So if you’re looking for a clean YA read, this is probably not the one for you.
I also listened to the audio version of this while at the store and LOVED it. Kathrine Kellgren is a top-notch reader, and made each character come to life. Anyone who can do several different accents AND switch to a ‘male’ voice has my vote!
So glad I decided to pick this one up finally and give it a try!