My rating: 5 of 5 stars
"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." -goodreads.com
Intriguing and treacherous. This is like "The Little Mermaid" with macabre elements of the mystical and paranormal variety. I love this book. I love it's uniqueness and it's horrifying descriptions. I love it's ability to cover both the beauty and the hideous aspects of "mermaids." I love the split timelines and plot lines and how they converge to fathom Hester's familial curse.
This book took me by surprise with it's brusqueness (considering that it is a young adult book) and I was pleased by how it breaks the genre mold. Love is still a driving factor in this book, but it's hemingway in how the author directs the story. To believe in love, Hester must find love. To find love, she must lose love. With an unknown mysterious macabre past, and a delicate fatal future, Hester must find a way to break the disease of a curse that is her soul.
Putting together the pieces of historical romance, mystery, fantasy, and the paranormal, Monstrous Beauty is writhing in dark transcendental passion.
First Line: "Syrenka wanted Pukanokick." (3)
Last Line: "Minutes later, the last evidence of her human existence danced up through the ocean as air bubles, softly breaking on the moonlit surface of the water." (295)
"She had dared to love, and she had lost everything." (8)
"How strange the world was, that a necklace should exist virtually forever, and a human life, worth so much more, should be short." (159)
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Hardcover, 304 pages
Published September 4th 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)