by Rosamund Hodge
Expected Publishing Date: January 28, 2014
Length: 352 pages
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Obtained Via: I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated for this review, and this is no way affects my opinion of the book.
Format Read In: E-ARC
Amazon Purchase Page:Cruel Beauty
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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’m not 100% sure what I read, but I know I liked it! Cruel Beauty is like reading the story of Beauty and the Beast paired with classic mythology thrown into a blender and amped up to 100. It was a little crazy getting thrown into the story at first since I was not expecting the mythology angle. I actually find that quite a failure on the part of the marketing department to not reference mythology AT ALL in the blurb since this book plays on it a LOT.
But here’s where Cruel Beauty gets awesome: This is not your typical Beauty and the Beast stories. Remember the lovely Belle?
Yeah, that’s totally not Nyx, the main character in Cruel Beauty. Nope, Nyx has known since she was young that she was going to be married to the Demon Lord as part of her father’s bargain to one day have children. She’s been brought up to wed him and to defeat him so that Arcadia can go free. Ignifex, the Demon Lord, (mostly) controls the demons that run over the land as well as strikes deals when townspeople come to him, and Nyx plans on stopping him. She’s cruel and determined and I sort of love her for it. Once she reaches the castle, everything pretty much goes insane. And of course there’s lots of swooning and plotting to be had. My view towards Nyx is more like this:
The world of Arcadia is so fascinating. Piece by piece, readers learn along with Nyx the truth about her world. She knows some things, but as she explores the castle and learns about her new husband, she realizes just how little she actually knew. The truth has long been concealed from everyone, including Ignifex, and the main plot of this book is for Nyx and Ignifex to discover the truth and for Nyx to save the land as well. There’s a lot of secrecy and deception hidden within the pages of Cruel Beauty, which makes it difficult to review without giving anything away, but I was completely shocked by the end.
I’ve already sort of mentioned how much I love Nyx, but it’s true. Her perceptions of people around her changes with new information, but she stays fiercely loyal to saving the people of the land, even when she doesn’t want to, even when it means hurting people that she loves. She’s not without fears or angst(I mean, she’s pretty much been raised her entire life to sacrifice herself because of her father’s mistake, so I think she’s allowed some whining now and then), but she’s also fierce. Ignifex is quite villainous in a delightful way that made me root for him all the same. He starts out as this cold, sinister character and while that’s definitely part of him, as the story progresses we get to see another side into his past and how he came to be that way. The romance in the book was so sort of strange and weird but I couldn’t help but to love it anyway.
The setting is amazing. The castle in the book is basically half Beauty and the Beast castle and half of a dark sort of Hogwarts, with things changing randomly and things lurking in dark corridors. It may be weird to say the castle setting was my favorite part, but it totally was. Cruel Beauty definitely exceeded my expectations and I really liked this story. I do wish there had been more explained in the beginning because the first fifteen percent was super confusing–mainly because I wasn’t expecting sort of the focus on mythology–but once I sort of gained my footing in the story I was hooked.
I REALLY enjoyed this one. It took some pretty common themes–mythology retellings and fairytale retellings–and reworked them in this new fantastical and deeply dark way. This book definitely sort of appeals to the dark romantic side of weird things hiding in corridors and seriously messed up characters that you can’t help but to love. 4/5 cupcakes.