Some people were skeptical when they heard that Guillermo del Toro's newest film,
is a love story between a human woman and a fish monster. However, The Shape of Water, the reviews are in, and The Shape of Water is a stunning, nuanced, and beautifully crafted romance. If you find yourself longing for more strange and subtle romances, inter-species or otherwise, here are a few bizarre love stories to remind you that love doesn't have to be conventional. The Shape of Water follows Elisa, a mute and isolated woman, who works as a cleaning lady in a top secret government lab. She finds herself drawn to the lab's classified "asset" — a scaly, humanoid creature who lives in a water tank. What unfolds is part monster movie, part other-worldly fable, as the two outcasts find solace in each other. This, after all, is what so many great love stories are made of: two people who don't quite belong, finding their place with each other. So what if one of them is technically a fish? Any true romantic will tell you that being a literal monster doesn't mean that you're unworthy of love.
In the vein of del Toro's latest masterpiece, here are a few books that explore romances outside of the norm (or the bounds of reality):
'Mrs. Caliban' by Rachel Ingalls
Dorothy is an unhappy housewife, living in the quiet suburbs. She's home one day, doing chores and waiting for her philandering husband to return, when she hears an odd radio announcement. It seems that a creature has escaped from the Institute for Oceanographic Research. So when a a 6'7" frog-like monster named Larry arrives, naturally Dorothy has to take him in... and develop a relationship with him that will ultimately change her life.
Click here to buy. 'Sharp Teeth' by Toby Barlow
Anthony is a sweet, lovesick dogcatcher. The only problem is that the object of his affections just so happens to be a werewolf who has abandoned her pack.
Sharp Teeth is a lyrical, book-length free verse poem. Toby Barlow takes us on a dangerous tour of the lycanthropes of L.A., and the impossible love between human and beast. If you're in the mood for dark romance featuring a lady monster, this is a must-read. Click here to buy. 'The Devourers' by Indra Das
Alok is a college professor who comes across a mysterious stranger on one cool evening in Kolkata. This stranger has battered notebooks and scrolls full of stories for Alok to transcribe, all of them to do with an ancient race of people. These beings are more than men, caught between the human and the animal. Alok begins to unravel a love story of the past, while at the same time he finds himself drawn closer and closer to this stranger in the present.
Click here to buy. 'Shiver' by Maggie Stiefvater
Grace is a human girl. She grew up watching the wolves behind her house in the winters, especially the yellow-eyed wolf. She thinks of him as
her wolf, and the two have always shared a special bond. When she meets a boy with those same yellow eyes, Grace just knows that he must be connected to her wolf somehow... but as the seasons begin to shift he must fight to keep his human form, or risk losing everything. Click here to buy. 'In Great Waters' by Kit Whitfield
The land-dwelling citizens of Venice are brokering a deal with the deepsmen who live beneath their waters. In order to keep the contract, though, they will need to cement the alliance with a marriage... and with hybrid, "bastard" children. Unfortunately, society does not look kindly on these children caught between two worlds. This alternate history manages to combine romance, fantasy, and historical fact to create an unconventional story about a human-merman boy and the princess he must unseat.
Click here to buy. 'Let the Right One' In by John Ajvide Lindqvist
Yes, yes, at this point vampire romances hardly even count as "unusual" anymore. But
Let the Right One In is uniquely disturbing. The romance here is between two children, and it's less about sexy, bloodsucking fiends and more about the unshakable bond between outcasts. Young Oskar and his next store neighbor find themselves becoming closer, despite the cruelty Oskar faces at school, and the gruesome deaths that seem to follow this young girl wherever she goes. Click here to buy. 'The Terracotta Bride' by Zen Cho
Siew Tsin is married to the richest man in Hell. Her afterlife is comfortable, even though she didn't choose it herself. And then her husband brings home a new wife: Yonghua, an artificial woman made from terracotta. Yonghua and Siew Tsin form an increasingly close friendship, but the mystery behind Yonghua's creation threatens to destroy both of them, as well as the very fabric of the afterlife itself.
Click here to buy. 'Seven Tears Into the Sea' by Terri Farley
When Gwen was 10 years old, she came across a strange boy on the beach. He whispered an unfamiliar rhyme into her ear, and then he was gone. Now, seven years later, Gwen is returning to her childhood home, wondering if this stranger will be true to his word and return to her one day.
Seven Tears into the Sea is a modern fairy tale, weaving together Celtic myth and fiery teen romance. Click here to buy.