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March 12, 2013

Audiobook Review: Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama

Monstrous Beauty
Title: Monstrous Beauty
Author: Elizabeth Fama
Publication date: September 4, 2012
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Genre(s): Young Adult (Paranormal/Mermaid)
Source: Publisher
Length: 8 hours
Read by: Katherine Kellgren
Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Indigo | Macmillan
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.
I rarely ever listen to audio books instead of reading the actual books but I have been hearing such high praise for the audio book of Monstrous Beauty that I had to give it a try. In this paranormal novel, Elizabeth Fama creates a world where mermaids, ghosts, curses, and a 17 year old girl, Hester, who is the only one that can solve the mystery of the curse as well as unravel the paranormal world that has always been within her reach, are a part of this plot. While I did enjoy this novel, I have to say that if I read the book, I wouldn't have liked it as much as listening to it. I haven't always had the best of luck with mermaid novels but I have to say that with the combination of the entangled plot as well as the great narration, this novel marks the first mermaid novel I actually enjoyed. 
Monstrous Beauty alternates between the past (the 1800s) and the present, between Syrenka and Hesther. Syrenka is the mermaid that wanted to be human so bad, to be loved, and to sacrifice her immortality for the one man that she loves. However for Hesther, given the family curse where the mother always dies after giving birth, is trying to stay far far away from love, romance, or anything close to it. I can't say I connected with both the characters much, Hesther annoyed me with the insta love (though if you read the book you would know why) and Syrenka does some things that I can't get past. So yea, both of these characters, while unique, didn't make me want to root for them. Secondary characters didn't leave an impression on me so I enjoyed this novel not for the characters, but for its plot. 
The plot is mainly the mystery which was a great one. I was actually so confused at a certain point that I tried seeking out answers from the internet, but thanks to every review being spoiler free, I wasn't able to understand. I am so impatient I know! However towards the end, everything got cleared up and I actually gasped once or twice at the outcome of both of the character's stories. The unraveling of the mystery and plot is perfect for mystery fans, while at times you did figure some parts out before Hesther and felt frustrated that she didn't understand, other parts would be a total shock to you. I would definitely recommend this book, and specifically the audio book, to paranormal fans, ones who love mermaid novels and ones who have never read a mermaid novel. I have to point out that even with it being a mermaid novel the setting throughout most of the book is on land, but I actually preferred it that way. 


  1. I've head so many great things already about the audio book to Monstrous Beauty, that I'm glad you enjoyed it too Juhina. I haven't had much luck with audio books in the past or with mermaid books for that matter, but the mystery behind this one certainly has my intrigued! I'm going to have to see if I can get a copy now! Lovely review! :)

  2. I think it's funny that you looked for answers to the mystery, so glad you enjoyed this one!

  3. I loved this book because it was so dark! I thought the story had some interesting structure to it and you are right, things didn't really come together until the very end.

  4. Ahaha :) Your search for answers is something I would seriously do! I've been really curious about this book. I haven't seen that many reviews though. So I guess I should check out more. But sorry you couldn't connect with the characters that much, I really hate when that happens! Awesome review :)

    Janina @ Synchronized Reading

  5. I love tales of mermaids so this book worked for me. And I do love searching for answers. It's like finding treasure :)

  6. This was probably one of the very first mermaid books I actually enjoyed, too. No others jump to mind quite as easily as this one. I rarely listen to audiobooks, but I'm glad to hear that it worked well for you here. :) I felt the same way about the romance in this, though that was probably the only aspect I wasn't keen on. I loved the rest! Great review, Juhina!

  7. I actually really enjoyed this book so I think that I would love the audio. I am a huge fan of audiobooks. I don't really read a lot of mermaid books, but this one worked for me.

  8. Ooh, I'm glad that the audio's as good as you'd heard. I made a note to myself on GR to listen to it if I can. Mermaid books have been tricky for me in the past, so that might be a good way for me to go as well.

  9. LOL -- I have the same problem with audiobooks sometimes. I get distracted at a crucial moment, or I just miss something, and then it's hard to page back and get straightened out.

    I've never read this one, but I've heard that it might be the kind of dark mermaid book I'd like!

    Jen @ YA Romantics

  10. I've never tried an audiobook before, except for a few that I've had to listen to at school, and I don't think I'm a fan of them. However, I'm glad this one had a great narrator! I'm more of a character person as opposed to a plot person, so I'm not sure how I'd like this one. But I do appreciate a good mystery!

    Lovely review, Juhina! :)

  11. This sounds great! I love stories that involve mermaids, and the plot seems awesome. I'm very excited to read this now :) Great review!

  12. This one is next on my to read stack! I think it sounds amazing and I can't wait to start it! Awesome review :). Your blog design is adorable!


  13. Oh, I loved this book. I'm sorry you didn't love the characters that much :\ But glad you enjoyed the plot :D Great review ;)
    Thank you for commenting on my Top Ten. <3
    Love, Carina @ Carina's Books

  14. I haven't had luck with mermaid books either, but I really want to read this. I'll steel myself for the shocking actions, I think.

    Great review!

  15. Ew I wish it would go away already. I don't see why teen authors feel the need to make teens fall in love on day one of meeting a guy. I mean really don't we think that some teens are more mature than that!

    Thanks for the great review!