I can't believe I almost DNF'ed this book! Thankfully Gina commented on my Goodreads update and convinced me this was much more than a mermaid book (I don't love mermaid books) with an ending well worth it (and yes, yes it is).
This one is much more plot driven than character driven. Normally I fall on the side of characters, but a story like this one is has me changing my tune.
Monstrous Beauty is made up of tiny chapters that alternate between the present day and 1873 with a few flashbacks to our modern leading lady's childhood. This format made for very quick reading and the alternating storylines were both mostly equally engaging (hey, I'm partial to historical tales so I give a slight edge to 1873).
I was afraid the modern parts would devolve into cliche YA paranormal romance, which was my primary reason for considering the DNF. While it did fall into this a little, there's an actual paranormal explanation for their feelings so I'm ok with it. Plus, it's a small part of the plot, so that makes it even more tolerable.
One thing I didn't love was the way main character Hester treated those around her, particularly her guy friend. He really should have been edited right out of the story. It's a minor quibble though and didn't stop me from enjoying the story.
It's hard to say much more without dropping major spoilers. Readers (like me) who like those kind of stories that alternate between the present and the past with a modern day character trying to unravel a mystery of the past should definitely add Monstrous Beauty to their list.
Rating: 4 out of 5
The Seven Tales of Trinket by Shelley Moore Thomas
Ah, now that was a satisfying story. This is another entry into the "story over characters" group, but being fairy tale based that's hardly a surprise or drawback.
There's an overarching story that wraps up well in the final tale, but the narrative focus is more like The Jungle Book, where a series of short stories are strung together to tell the larger story.
The approach worked very well and I was quickly invested in both the main story and the individual tales. Fans of legends and fairy tales will recognize the underlying threads in many of Trinket's adventures, but Shelley Moore Thomas adds enough personal touches to breathe new life into the stories (1000xs THANK YOU for the change to the dog story! I always pretended that is what really happened).
Recommended to readers who appreciate a good tale, regardless of age. This would make a wonderful addition to school libraries and family bedtime reading. Readers who like Plain Kate by Erin Bow should check out this under-appreciated gem (though don't expect quite the same level of heart wrenching depth).
Rating: 4 out of 5