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Wanda's Book Reviews

I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles.  (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).

Currently reading

Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Ann J. Lane
Wizard and Glass
Stephen King, Dave McKean
River of Blue Fire
Tad Williams
Richard Ford
Progress: 36/420 pages

Monstrous Beauty / Elizabeth Fama

Monstrous Beauty - Elizabeth Fama

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.


Once again, a good grounding in Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid is an excellent idea for getting the most out of this tale. But I’m sure you can enjoy it even if you’ve never encountered the fairy tale.

In this one, the mermaid gets both her legs and her man, but her life becomes entwined with the Plymouth Colony population in ways that she would never have dreamed. It falls to Hester Goodwin, a young woman working as a Plymouth reenactor at a historic site, to figure out the various aspects of the story and set things straight. Hopefully, she will straighten out her own life during the process.

I love a story that involves genealogical research, so that predisposed me to like this one. I also enjoyed the switching between time periods, with Ezra and Sarah/Syrenka alternating with Hester. Sometimes that kind of alternation is confusing, but I felt this was well done. May I also say that I hope it is not nearly as easy to steal a Special Collections book as it is depicted in this tale.

Once again, I will say that if you are looking for a traditional HEA ending, this may not be the book for you. Quite in keeping with Andersen, really. The ending is definitely hopeful, so you can add your own imaginary HEA should you choose to--it is strongly hinted at. 

Part of my 2019 MerMay project.