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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Review: Cruel Beauty

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Cruel Beauty
by Rosamund Hodge
YA Fantasy
Amazon  /  Goodreads

Plot Summary:

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.


Nyx was such a strangely compelling character.  For most of the book, her bitterness at being the one who must marry the demon Ignifex defines who she is.  It is very understandable that Nyx should feel so wronged, and bemoan how unfair it all is, but she does do it a lot. But those feelings do play an important part in how the author reimagines the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale.  I can't say that I particularly like to read about main characters who accuse and grumble as much as Nyx does, but I was impressed with how well the author makes it integral to the story and to all of the characters' developments.

When it comes to the romance, I was a bit torn.  I thought that Nyx's attraction to Ignifex was believable, as was his attraction to her, but I found it a bit laughable how quickly Nyx would forget everything she knows about Ignifex when he shows her a little romantic interest.  But I did enjoy her relationship with him, and there were certain aspects to the couple's development that I found really satisfying.  Even though I wanted Nyx to show more sense when she was around him, I thought they made a great pair.

The world-building was very rich and I loved how Greek mythology was interwoven throughout.  The curse was complex, and unraveling the true nature of it was the great mystery that made me eager to read more.  There were times I thought I knew what was going to happen, or understood the purpose of something, only for the author to take it in a completely new direction.  I loved how unpredictable this story was for me.  The writing was also a highlight - very lush and descriptive - it contributed to the Gothic atmosphere of the story, and to the complexities of the characters.

This book is an imaginative and suspenseful take on Beauty and the Beast.   While I found the characters difficult to relate to sometimes, their dilemmas and motivations were always believable and worked so well in advancing the story.  And the author brought so much dimension to this fairy tale retelling with the addition of mythological and fantastical elements.

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  1. Kayla @ The Thousand LivesJune 17, 2014 at 10:35 AM

    You mention Greek mythology... I am so there. I was going back and forth but I think I really do want to read it :D Plus, I love the name Nyx. As long as she's not too whiney, I'm pretty sure I'll enjoy it.

  2. I liked the incorporation of Greek mythology into the story as well. And I really liked that the story went in unexpected directions. I also liked that even though I didn't really relate to the characters, they weren't unlikable to me. Normally, I wouldn't think I'd enjoy characters that are so angry and bitter, but I really kind of did which I think is a testament to Hodge's writing.

  3. Ok I can tell you I totally related to Nyx and her attraction to Ignifex. Haven't you ever been attracted to someone you just KNOW know know is bad for you. That they just have bad news written all over them. Not even the 'bad boy' per say but just ....welll anyways - there is chemistry and that is how I felt I knew her plight cause I felt like I'd been in that spot and couldn't stop myself against my better judgement.

    Luckily it worked out better for her. I'm still so glad you really enjoyed this!

  4. Hmm, it's a bit of a fine line to me about whether Nyx is whiney, but I hope you enjoy this one! And I love the name Nyx too! I hadn't heard of it before - I had to look it up in Greek mythology. I feel like I might use that for a pet name one day. :D

  5. Yes,I did understand why the characters were so bitter, so that did help me to root more of them. The Greek mythology was a nice bonus - I wasn't expecting it!

  6. Well, I am happy (I think) to say I haven't had that experience! :) But I can understand the attraction to Ignifex just because I was rooting for him more than for Shade! :) Probably a big part of it though was expecting that Ignifex would be redeemable and Shade just seemed too good to be true!

    I am glad I finally picked this one up - I hope to read the novella Gilded Ashes soon!

  7. I agree with your review and thoughts except, huh, the romance didn't work for me. :/ I mean that ''love triangle''? So frustrating. Loved the world-building too. :)

  8. Hmm, don't want to be spoilery in my comments, so I'll just say I always had some suspicions about that "love triangle" so I wasn't too bothered with it at first. But I can see why you were frustrated because I did think it moved a little too fast. But the world-building and the interpretation of the fairy tale was fantastic!

  9. Just read this actually..was torn on this one..great world building but I struggled with what felt like rushed character development! Still worth reading I think!

  10. I think this is really a great take on Beauty and the Beast! Nyx didn't bother me much--I guess because I couldn't fault her for being so upset about it? The Greek mythology is so interesting, too, and YES the writing is gorgeous! It works so perfectly for the book, too. I'm so glad you enjoyed this Charlene!

  11. Yes, they were definitely not the most easy characters and I think that's what I liked to much. This story is nothing like any other. The mythology was great incorporated into the world-building and that writing-style! Perfection.

  12. The characters do feel like they fit too easily into archetypes, although I think I was pleasantly surprised by Nyx's sister who I thought would be very nice. I'm glad you did like it though, and hopefully it will get better with the other books the author is planning to write!

  13. I can see that - I'm sure I would not have been very happy to deal with the consequences of my father's actions if I was Nyx! I am looking forward to reading more by this author!

  14. It was a very interesting take on the fairy tale, and I love that it had so many layers! Perhaps one day I will feel more forgiving to difficult main characters and be more ready to go along with their journey! :)

  15. It is one of those books that frustrate me because it is well written and interesting but I think the characters lack a believable arch! I liked her writing style though and definitely willing to give her others books a try.

  16. This is one of my all time favorite book covers! I still haven't read the book, but I'm hoping to get to it soon :)

  17. It is a gorgeous cover, and I love how they integrated the rose and the staircase! I hope you enjoy it when you get to it!

  18. I am thrilled you enjoye this one despite a few minor issues. I keep reading so many wonderful reviews for it and I have yet to dig into my copy! I simply must get on that asap XD The mythology aspect DEFINITELY appeals to me so hopefully that outshines the romantic issues LOL Awesome review ^^

    Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews

  19. Oh the mythology part is so well done, so I'm sure you like this book for that alone! I hope you really love it though - there have been some great reviews for it, so I think my issues are just personal and really the book is very good!