- The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan
- The Forbidden Sea by Sheila A. Nielson
Summary from GoodReads:
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’ve had a mission this year. I wanted to find good mermaid books – because I grew up watching The Little Mermaid, dang it and I wanted some good Ariel-vibes in the books I read.
So when Monstrous Beauty came up, and I saw the glowing ratings it was getting, I allowed myself to feel hope. Not all the mermaid books I’ve read have been bad (The Forbidden Sea by Sheila Nielson was fantastic) – but I wanted something a little more mature.
Well, I definitely got mature in Monstrous Beauty.
First, the good things. Finally, a mermaid scenario that makes sense; I always wondered logistics and how they fit into myth/legend. A prologue that gave me chills. A perfect mix of paranormal and fantasy. A nice little mystery, and some freakishly creepy elements. All these things made up something that, aside from one nagging detail, could be in my top two YA reads of the year.
I loved the details about Hester as well. She was strong, independent, a go-getter, and honestly … her job cracked me up. It was so entertaining I found myself wanting to read more of what it was like to be at work. That’s talent, people!
The mystery was okay – I mean, once things really got going it wasn’t hard to figure out – the hard part was trying to see how it would all fit together. I’m normally not a big mystery person so this wasn’t as big of a deal to me.
And the mermaids – they were fantastic. Every bit as chilling as I believe mermaids to be – from the jagged rows of teeth to the bloodthirstiness of certain ones. I was entranced and found myself wishing I could go lay on a rock and just wait for them to come to me by the sea.
Now – that nagging detail. There’s a rape in this book. And while I was surprised at the level of detail (it’s not super detailed, but a little more graphic than I’m used to seeing in YA fiction), I was more concerned at how it was not addressed. At all. I mean, it’s there basically as a plot device – and that disappointed me. I mean, really? Using a rape as the means to make sure your heroine ends up where you want her to be?
I’m not going to rant. I’m not. But I will say I’m very tired of seeing rape bandied about and then not addressed after the fact. It leaves lasting effects on women, people. Mythical or not. I’ll get off my soapbox now.
So – the only thing keeping this from five stars is that detail. That’s it. The rest of the story? Fantastic. I plan to read it again – but this time I’ll just skip the scene that bugs the bejeebus out of me.
Don’t just take my word for it! Check out what these bloggers say!
- Method of Obtaining: I received a copy of this to review from the publisher through NetGalley.
- Published by: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
- Release Date: 9/4/2012