Book Quibbles: Monstrous Beauty

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.

Months ago I received a Lit-Cube with this book and it sat on my shelf behind a waiting list of other books I wanted to read first. I’m not one for romances, but when it comes to mermaids I’ll take a look and in the end liked this book, for the most part.



Syrenka, a mermaid who lived for thousands of years, falls in love with a human named Ezra. It does start off a bit Little Mermaid-ish but do any mermaid romances not?

Generations later, 17-year-old Hester, is preparing for a future without love. After giving birth, the women in her family mysteriously die not long after without any real cause. Hester believes this will happen to her and forces herself to stay away from any romantic or physical relationships.

Ezra is the key to brining the worlds together and helping Hester reveal the curse upon her family and how she may be able to break it.

The book starts out with Syrenka realizing every time she falls in love, it ends in tragedy. Cut forward to today with Hester and she’s realizing how much she likes her good friend Peter, only to push those feelings aside and come off as an “icy-bitch” to keep everyone away from her. As Hester gets close to Peter and thinks he may feel the same, she rushes off in solitude only to discover Ezra and this starts off the journey.

Everything’s Connected

The tiniest of details come back in the end. There’s no wasted dialogue or time on characters that don’t matter. We know Hester has a family and a brother, but the story is focused on Hester and the people who are connected to the tragedy within her family.

I applaud the intertwining of stories, objects, and people. When you look back everything led up to something from Hester’s childhood friend Linnie to the brief mention of a doll. The mystery keeps you reading. Why do the women in Hester’s family die with no natural cause? What does it have to do with mermaids and the abilities they have?

The story goes from present to past, getting viewpoints from Syrenka, Ezra, and mainly Hester. What happens in the past leads up to everything in the present. No flashback is wasted either.

The Characters

As the story progresses more information about the mermaids is revealed from the way they look to what they can do. I have to admit I wish I knew more. For example, there’s a legend of a sea witch who controls the ocean/mermaids and is briefly brought up until the end when we get a lot more information until a scene later, and now we meet her face-to-face.

Syrenka is a strong character but like the mermaids, we didn’t spend enough time with her to make me truly care. She and Ezra’s connection is there. Ezra actually spends months with her, learning and recording. I can believe this will build up to a romantic relationship. Unlike most men, Ezra doesn’t fall instantly in love with Syrenka and is more curious. Ezra is an intelligent person with a sense of humor. They work.

Hester is also likable despite coming off cold. We know her dreams and fears and you root for her to solve this mystery. However, her relationship with Ezra is a bit forced. Later on you understand why but I still didn’t believe the instant love between the two. One minute she’s cursing at him for being a weirdo living in a cave the next she’s jumping on top of him. Unlike Ezra and Syrenka, Ezra and Hester didn’t get enough time together to establish a relationship. Hell, I believed Hester and Linnie’s friendship progressed better.

She does have chemistry with Peter, whom she grew up with and someone who clearly likes her, but she becomes so involved with the mystery their relationship falters for some time and is put aside for her “thing” with Ezra.


Usually I like to tell people what they’re getting into as far as profanity, violence, etc. goes. There’s a bit of swearing but not much and the mermaids are naked, however there is a brief rape scene which isn’t graphic but still hard to read.

In the end I liked most of the book. I wanted to know about the curse on Hester’s family and her discovery of all the people in her life being connected. However, her thing with Ezra doesn’t cut it for me and may be the one downfall of the book. If she merely mentioned feeling a spark between them and that being the reason to bring her back to see him, I’d like it. But when you have them saying I love you after a day it’s too much.

I do recommend this book if you want a story about myths, mermaids, and an awesome mystery.



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