Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: January 28, 2014
Graceling meets Beauty and the Beast in this sweeping fantasy about one girl's journey to fulfill her destiny and the monster who gets in her way-by stealing her heart.
Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.
Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.
With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.
But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.
As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.
I can’t tell you how many times I have sat down to write this review, only to stop and save the notes that I jotted down. I was so excited about Cruel Beauty when I first found out about it. Beauty and The Beast is one of my all time favorite fairy tales and I generally jump on any retelling that comes my way. Cruel Beauty was not just a retelling of BaTB but also a fantasy, so I had very high hopes… But, I think my hopes were a little too high.
Let me preface this review with warning you that the copy of Cruel Beauty I read is an ARC so some of the aspects may be different from the completed copy you can buy in the store.
What I didn’t care for:
The main character Nyx in general. I wanted so badly to feel sorry for her, and at times I did. Nyx has been raised essentially to be a sacrifice for her people. Her father and aunt who should have brought her up with love and affection simply trained her and made her feel unwelcome. Even though I was apathetic to her plight in life I had a hard time staying sympathetic to her as she was constantly changing her mind on how she treated those around her and at times she was just mean.
Now this is completely nit picky on my part and if you haven’t read Cruel Beauty yet please don’t read this part of my review. Even though I was excited about this book I almost stopped at the halfway point because the main character, Nyx was always clenching something. Nyx would get angry and clench her fist, her jaw, you get the idea. I actually went back and counted and how many times it was used: 19 times by page 114. Because of this one descriptive word being used over and over I found myself rolling my eyes every time I read it and almost stopped reading all together.
One thing that always draws me to a Beauty and The Beast type story is the romance. (Yes, I know the romance between a trapped prisoner and the person/being doing the imprisoning is a bit messed up, but whatever.) The romance just didn’t grab me the way I wanted it to in Cruel Beauty. Maybe it had something to do with the odd faux love (Yeah, I’m not even going to go there.) that was going on between the main characters, I just wanted a little more in the love department and not just physical love and the constant thought of kissing. (Really Nyx thinks of kissing… A lot!)
What I liked:
Ignifex! Ignifex is just as the book blurb says. He is the evil lord over the world Nyx lives in and he is a “strangely charming lord.” I fell so hard for this character. Ignifex was my redeeming factor for Cruel Beauty that made me continue reading. I had to keep going to find out all the secrets he didn’t even know he was hiding. I love Ignifex!
I’m not going to lie; I thought the fantasy world that Hodge created was cool. I loved all the mythology that she spun throughout this story. I just felt like the relationships and the world in itself was all pushed together a bit too soon. I honestly think that if this one book had been turned into two, and everything was a bit more fleshed out I would have loved every part of it. Honestly I went back and read Cruel Beauty again to try to clear up a few parts I was confused about.
I think Cruel Beauty is an interesting story, but I also think the world, mythology, characters, and romance where all together a little to much for one book to handle. If you are a Beauty and The Beast fanatic, or a high fantasy lover this may still work for you. I will be on the lookout for more by Rosamund Hodge because I did like the concept of Cruel Beauty.
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