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Monstrous Beauty

Monstrous Beauty - Elizabeth Fama I liked this book but not as much as I thought I was. From all the 4/5 star review I was expecting a mind blasting book about mermaids which I didn't get. Not to say that the book wasn't good because it was, however it wasn't what I expected.

The book is written in two viewpoints and in two different times. We read about Hester who is a descendant of the mermaid Syrenka. Her time in in the present. First we find out that in Hester's family all of the women died a few days after giving birth to their first child which is always a daughter. Her mother died a few days after her birth, as well as her mother before her and so on. One day Hester meets a guy named Ezra on the beach in a cave and from that point on every thing is about finding out about her curse and breaking it. Which it all has to do with Syrenka.

The other viewpoint is narrated to us and it takes place in 1872-1873 and its about Syrenka and Ezra (yes the same Ezra that is in Hester's time). Basically Ezra is a naturalist and loves ocean animals. He has heard stories of sea folk and is determined to see one. One day while he is sketching in his journal, he meets Syrenka, a mermaid.(BTW we meet Syrenka in the first page of the book where she narrates the prologue). Ezra wants to know all about her and the sea folk so they agree to meet every night to talk. After a few weeks they eventually fall in love. Syrenka is a thousand years old and she is able to be immortal because she doesn't have a soul. There are a few ways that she can become human but without a soul she will still be immortal as a human. The only way for her to get a human soul if for her to have a baby with a human. Some tragic stuff happens after that where Syrenka is captured on a fisherman's boat, while Ezra is left treading water and trying to find a way to get to shore. On the boat Syrenka is raped and she kills the fisherman, then performs some ritual to get legs. LAter on she finds out she is pregnant and gets a human soul making her mortal. When she has the baby she leaves it tied in seaweed in the water for her mer-sister to get the baby girl and raise it as a mermaid. Instead a fisherman finds the baby and gives it to a widow to raise.

The rest of Syrenka's story is told throughout the book . She and Ezra fall in love and marry but then everything goes to hell and you find out why Ezra still exists more than a hundred years later in Hester's time. Hester has to figure out how she is linked to Syrenka and her baby for her to break the curse.

My favorite character in the book is Syrenka (love her name). She is a lonely mermaid who has loved once before but sad to say it didn't work out. When she meets Ezra, she tries to dissuade him from loving her even though it doesn't work. Syrenka is passionate, loving, protective and determined. She does what she has to do to become human for Ezra. She is incredibly physically strong as well which is a feature of a mermaid. She gives up her entire world and everything she knows to be with the one she loves.

Hester is kind of annoying. She obsesses about her curse which is to be expected but she is so whiny about it. She resolves to never get a boyfriend and to never fall in love and never have sex. Right, because there is nothing she can do to prevent pregnancy in this day and age. She has so many options available to her that will allow her to fall in love, have a boyfriend, have sex, not give birth and have children as well. Its called adoption. It may not be her first choice but hey if she wants to live and have kids it is an option to think about. But nooooo all she does is whine whine whine. I do like how booky she is and that she loves history. I think its absolutely awesome that she works in a pilgrim reconstruction tourist attraction. But I also think she is a hypocrite. I mean she whines and whines that she will never get a boyfriend and stays away from all males but as soon as she meets Ezra she is head over heels in love. Please. She doesn't even know him for a day before she says she loves him.

Ezra is ok. There's not much about him in the book. He is a central figure in both time eras and everything that happens is because of Syrenka's love for him but we never really know the man that changes two women that well. Its a damn shame.

I also like Pastor McKee. He is a scottish pastor and he is hilarious.

I really also like the description of the underwater world of the mermaids when Hester goes there. The Sea queen mermaid is disgusting and made my skin crawl. I loved Needa, Syrenka's sister who helped Hester escape from the sea queen.

The end of the book is to be expected and I was surprised at how bloody and gory it was. I loved it!

Spoiler Alert
I'm calling a spoiler alert because then next part I say could be spoiler. I'm not really sure but its better to be safe than sorry. Its about the love in this book.
First the insta-love between Hester and Ezra was gag worthy and sooo took away from the book. Its like "oh he's gorgeous" and bam she's in love. Please.
Another thing that I really didn't like was that Hester and Ezra fell in love at all. I mean Ezra loved Syrenka all those years ago. He was head over heels for her. and Syrenka loved him just as much. So what the hell Ezra. Also its really gross because we find out that Syrenka is Hester's great x5 grandmother. So Hester is essentially in love with her great great great great great grandma's husband. Is it just me who thinks that is soo wrong and a tad incestuous?
Then comes the part with the souls stuff and eventually we find out that Hester has Syrenka's soul that was passed down her line as each mother died to give Syrenka's soul to their daughter. So I don't know what that means. Is Ezra really in love with Hester or is he only in love with her because she has his true love's soul? Does he only see Syrenka's soul when he looks at Hester. To me it doesn't matter because Hester is her own person with her own body and personality, so for me she's completely different from Syrenka even if Hester does have her soul. Its all so confusing and unnecessary. Hester and Ezra shouldn't have fallen in love to begin with. At least that's how I feel.

This review is also posted on Spantalian's Book Reviews