Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama is a beautifully told mermaid tale. It opens up in 1522 with Syrenka, the immortal mermaid, lusting after the human Pukanokick. And then she accidentally drowns him by forgetting that us silly, weak humans need air.
The novel alternates chapters between Syrenka and her love story and the current day Hester and her own love issues. Syrenka and her love from the 19th century--a man who studies marine life and falls madly in love with her. Hester and her decision to never fall in love. Every generation the women of Hester's family die in childbirth. Every generation. Is it genetics, a family curse? When Hester meets Ezra in a beach cove, everything changes for her. Everything.
This darkly gothic paranormal romance is not the typical YA paranormal romance novel. Which is probably why I enjoyed it so much. I read this a few months ago and reviewed for a book journal. Typically, that means that I will not blog about it here or on my goodreads page. But this title struck me still as one that needs to be highlighted. It has a little bit of everything in it. Mystery, ghosts, romance, horrific mermaids, murders, violence, history, and rich characters. Without the characters' depth that story would have faltered.
My only complaint about this novel is the cover art! The image on the left is the hardback version. The image on the right is the cover image from the ARC (Advanced reading copy) that I reviewed. I love that cover art. Who decided to change it to the boring one on the left?
Anyway, if you're looking for something a bit more than the typical paranormal story. Something with a bit more grit, depth, literary quality, et cetera. Look no further than Monstrous Beauty. You won't be disappointed.