Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: January 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 don’t know why, but lately, I seem to have developed a thing for purchasing Beauty and the Beast retellings. Maybe it’s because I want to see how the authors would portray the “Beast” character (morbid curiosity- you understand, don’t you?)
Cruel Beauty is a lovely story- very enchanting. What I like the most about this book is the world the author has created, and how she seems to have added a bit of mythology, which just blends well into the story. I usually don’t care much for slow reads, but this one’s different. It’s dark, and bewitching, and the kind of story you want to take in slowly.
Nyx is very bitter. She has grown up with the knowledge that her duty is to marry Ignifex, the prince of demons. Because of a trade her father made with Ignifex before her birth, she is filled with hatred for her father, and her sister, who is lucky enough to have been born minutes after her. Now, as a result of what she views as her father’s foolishness and selfishness, Nyx feels she might die soon. But she has a plan to stay alive.
The plan seems simple enough; only, Ignifex is not what she expected. He’s charming and confusing, and doesn’t seem all that evil. In fact, he, too, is a tormented soul. So Nyx looks for ways to save herself and her people… but of course, she is falling deeply in love with Ignifex and has no idea where her loyalties should lie.
Like I mentioned before, Cruel Beauty is a lovely story. The description and imagery is amazing, and the world-building is truly artful. It’s one of those stories that I should love so much… but I just don’t. I loved reading about Nyx’s explorations of her husband’s castle, and how she and Ignifex start to connect. But at a point towards the ending, I just got confused as to what was happening. This is one of those situations where at the beginning of the story, I’m totally in sync; then a time comes that I find myself checking to see if I skipped a page or two.
I think it’s a problem of patience… maybe the author wasn’t patient enough to make what was happening clear enough. Of course, later on, I got the gist of what happened; but that’s just not the same as knowing what happened.
I have to give it to the author for characterization and plot twists, though. She’s obviously a master at piecing events together to make a great story. The language is consistent and elaborate, and I could actually see everything unfold in my head.
This book is brilliant, and everything comes together cohesively to form one cool read. I like it a lot… I just can’t bring myself to love it because of that minor confusion. That said, buy this book: it’s worth it (and maybe you’ll not get confused like I did) 🙂