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Gr 10 Up-Seventeen-year-old Hester has already decided that love and children are not part of her future. Her mother died shortly after giving birth to her, and her family has a long history of women dying mysteriously after childbirth. At a party, Hester escapes to a beach cave accessible only at low tide and encounters a mysterious man to whom she is inexplicably drawn. Separate chapters tell the story of a mermaid named Syrenka who, more than 100 years earlier, exchanges eternal life in the ocean for life on land because she falls in love with a human. The narration travels back and forth between Syrenka and Hester, eventually establishing how the two are linked. Hester begins to investigate the mystery of the deaths of the women in her family and discovers a way to put the past to rest and free up her future. Mermaid lore and New England history are combined in a riveting tale that is both sensual and unsettling. History buffs, fantasy lovers, and mystery fans will all find something to please them in this engrossing story about a family curse and its cure. A rape scene and some of the other depictions of violent acts make this most appropriate for mature readers.-Kathy Kirchoefer, Prince Georges County Memorial Library System, New Carrollton, MDα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Fama (Overboard, 2002) delivers a beautifully written, romantic ghost story with an artful construction that incorporates a murder mystery and detailed historical fiction. The unusual setting includes graveyards, church crypts, and the starkly beautifully North Atlantic shore. Fama’s mermaids are powerful, creepy, and unsentimental, more akin to Barrie than Disney. Parallel stories follow 17-year-old Hester in 2002 and the ageless mermaid Syrenka in 1872. Hester is an only child who works at Plimoth Plantation (a historical reenactment site) and fears dying in childbirth, like her mother and the four preceding generations. Syrenka falls in love with a young naturalist, Ezra, and devours the lungs of a fisherman to become human and join Ezra on land. Gradually, the two stories weave together for a compelling and satisfying finish. Fama does not shy away from the big issues: love, death, longing, lust, fear, and revenge all play out through her complex and multidimensional characters. Grades 9-12. --Debbie CartonSee all Editorial Reviews
Originally reviewed at http://www.shaelit.com/2012/09/review-monstrous-beauty-by-elizabeth-fama/
I expected a mermaid tale with some edge. Read more
awesome story- I only wanted to make my opinion known about the one reviewer who complained about the reference to breasts..
Seriously dude? Read more
So much adventure underwater. I was there. Well written.Published 4 months ago by Christine Bullion
Hester doesn’t know what is wrong with her family. For generations, every woman has died after giving birth – including her own mother. Read morePublished 6 months ago by SunshineRose
I noticed this book at my local library and the beautiful cover art made me pick it up. After reading the description, I had to give it a try; I'm a sucker for stories that revolve... Read morePublished 6 months ago by GemmaA
My favorite Mermaid book of all time, I was on the edge of my seat the whole book through. The author did a outstanding job.Published 7 months ago by G. Messick
I loved this book. Monstrous Beauty combines two paranormal creatures: mermaids and ghosts. While it seems a surprising combination, it actually works. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Majanka
I ended up really enjoying this book, probably more than I expected.
The story cuts between Sarah's story, hundreds of years ago, and Hester's current-day story. Read more
I was really excited about this book when I first bought it and started reading it as soon as I got home. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Lauren