Instead of catching up of the latest episode of Love Island (I am hooked, sorry to those who don’t like it) I’ve been reading a book which I ordered called Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama. I was scrolling through Amazon and it came up as a recommended read and after being obsessed with everything Liz Kessler wrote about Emily Windsnap as well as Helen Dunmore’s tales of the Mer. I just have to read everything to do with mermaids. I love anything Fantasy related and I snap up any books to do with anything mythical since I’ve been very young.
I wasn’t only enticed by the beautiful cover but the promise of mermaids, ghosts and curses. What YA fantasy lover isn’t going to be enticed by those three? As soon as I read the prologue I was struck with the thought that this would be no typical mermaid novel. The mermaids are not the normal creatures but animalistic and violent. It’s a dark fairy tale, if it could even be called that, which is intriguing and enchanting. It’s more mature YA fiction so I would say that audience is sixteen plus. I wouldn’t personally want anyone younger reading it due to some of the scenes and its themes.
The novel is set within different time zones; that of Syrenka ( a mermaid for the 1800s) and that of Hester ( a sixteen year old girl in modern society). Syrenka made a terrible mistake due to her need for companionship and Hester is haunted by a curse which has killed every female member of her family after giving birth to girls. Deep secrets combine both the present and past characters and the integration of the different times is also done skilfully. I never got confused between the modern Plymouth and Syrenkas’.
“The more she loved, the more she ached.”
― Elizabeth Fama, Monstrous Beauty
Syrenka is a doomed creature and Hester seems to have her similarities at the beginning of the novel. However, she becomes more powerful and grows in influence and in character as the novel progresses. When I was reading I really began to hate Hester and get so frustrated with her but as soon as her story began to take shape she became a figure that I admired. There are many twists and turns and even though I did guess some of the surprises, it didn’t take away any enjoyment I had of the story away.
This is a mermaid’s tale like no other and it is another book which will not be forgotten quickly. The originality of Fama’s writing, the brutality and vividness of her imagery will stay with you, long into your nighttime dreams. This is no tale like the Little Mermaid and isn’t for a reader expecting it to be either.
On a sidetone, my book review posts always contain links to the purchase of the novels which I review either through text links or like the image below. So if you would like to read Monstrous Beauty then don’t hesitate to click the image below. And, if you don’t enjoy it- you can blame me!
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