Splashy One to Watch: MONSTROUS BEAUTY by Elizabeth Fama

Welcome to Splash into Summer, home of mermaid lovers everywhere!
Check out my daily schedule of events!
Check out what my co-host Literally Jen has in store as well!

MONSTROUS BEAUTY doesn't come out until Sept., but I'd like to spotlight it now for Splash!

O P E N I N G   H O O K:


She watched him but never spoke to him.  She never dared to approach or reveal herself.  A year of stealth had taught her his language, his habits, his dreams, his ways.  The more she knew, the more she loved.  The more she loved, the more she ached.
(Page 3, US ARC Edition, out Sept. 04 2012;
Changes may occur before final printing)
Today, Elizabeth Fama also stopped by A Backwards Story for a splashtastic interview!  Check it out!

MONSTROUS BEAUTY is much darker than most mermaid novels and in this sense, feels more "real" to me than many other books in the genre.  When you take the siren aspect of the lore into account, it's easy to recognize that mermaids aren't all the light, human-loving beings that tend to be at the forefront of our imaginations.  Instead, they're wicked and deadly, with animalistic instincts that show that they're more beast than they are human.  Their minds and emotions don't work the way a human's does, and Elizabeth Fama portrays their nature beautifully in her new novel.

The novel is chilling and hard to read at times, but never in a scary way.  The procedure a mermaid must go through in order to become human or save one's life is horrific.  There's also a short scene that involves rape, so between these two elements and the fact that the book is more...sensual, for lack of a better word, I would not recommend this book to a younger teen even though it's shelved in YA.  The book really lives up to its name, and the mermaids are monstrous in a way I never felt when reading Zoraida C√≥rdova's THE VICIOUS DEEP (Which I enjoyed, but didn't feel to be "vicious").

There's also a refreshing historical aspect to MONSTROUS BEAUTY that bridges two worlds, alternating between the past and events that occurred in 1872 with repercussions still existing in a more modern world.  Fama never dates "modern day," so while it could be today, it could also be a couple of decades earlier--or later.  She seamlessly weaves together a tragedy and creates a compelling mystery that's hard to put down.

Fama is so good at layers and bringing readers into her world that it was easy to feel invested in Syrenka's plight and all that she gave up, all that she goes through.  I found myself wanting to dip back into the past every time I stepped once more into the present, though the present-day began to intrigue me more as the storyline progressed.  The world-building is also stellar, full of Fama's own mermaid lore that is refreshingly unique.

I'm eager to read more books by Fama in the future and feel that it's one of the more well-written and compelling mermaid novels.

This one comes out in about a month and a half, so put it on your TBR list now!
O F F I C I A L   I N F O:
Author: Elizabeth Fama
Release Date: Out Sept. 04, 2012
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux / Macmillan
Received: ARC for review


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.