I’m trying to find a balance between reading and reviewing ARCs and new releases, and older books, especially ones I already own. So I decided to pick up Monstrous Beauty, which has been sitting on my shelf for far too long.
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.
Mermaids. Ghosts. Murder. Curses. Sounds great right? And it was.
You know what annoys me more than not liking a book? Is loving a book and then having it go down hill. There’s nothing worse then thinking “Wow. I’ve found an amazing book and I can’t wait to rave about it” only to have your hopes dashed. It certainly wasn’t a bad book, but it could have been so much more.
When I started reading Monstrous Beauty I loved it. It was quiet and a bit slow, but with the right amount of mystery to have be flying through the pages. It was dark and haunting and my heart broke a little as it slid down into something slightly higher than a paranormal romance. I really thought this was going to be a 4 star book.
At first, I loved that half the story was told in the present day and the other half in the past. It was wonderful learning the truth as it unfolded and watching as Hester figured it out for herself. And then the whole truth unraveled for the reader and Hester is still in the dark and that’s where the book lost me. Since I knew the truth, I lost patience with Hester for being such an idiot and not understanding. Plus, I wasn’t really as interested in the present once I had figured out the mystery aspect of it. I think the historical setting should have been presented a bit more slowly. That way, as a reader, I could have continued to figure things out with Hester instead of wanting to yell “IT’S SO OBVIOUS!”
It’s 3rd person POV which definitely kept me at a distance from connecting with Hester. Skilled writers can pull it off, but I just don’t think it worked in this case. She was so…blah. I know next to nothing about her besides the fact that she lost her mother as a baby and loves history. And she’s pretty rude to her best friend and former crush, who she stops liking as soon as she meets Ezra. And it didn’t help that the romance was dull and reminded me of Twilight. I mean after reading I understand, but MAJOR instalove. And it doesn’t even make sense because there didn’t seem to be anything remarkable about him.
I don’t think I’ve ever read a mermaid book before. I’ve read plenty of vampires, some werewolves, fairies and even a dragon. But I don’t think I’ve ever actually finished a book about a mermaid. And I was so sad. They are dark creatures and it should have been exciting learning about them, but the mythology isn’t explained properly. When it became a bigger focus it took away from the story because I didn’t have a firm understanding. They have magic? They can become human? Humans can become mermaids? I’m told some of it, but there is very little explanation. And then towards the end there is some “big bad” that was barely mentioned throughout the previous 220 pages so I had no connection to it. It was just like, “Oh here is the real evil” and nothing. It was a bit disjointed.
The ending was satisfying, but everything was explained to the reader through dumbass Hester FINALLY understanding what I understood 150 pages earlier. I was majorly disappointed in this. I wanted to love it so much, and the beginning had SO much promise. This was just another example of poor execution.