Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Genre: Fantasy, Young adult, Romance
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: January 28, 2014
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.
"IN NIHIL AB NIHILO QUAM CITO RECIDIMUS."
From nothing into nothing how swiftly we return.
It's taken me awhile to gather my thoughts about Cruel Beauty into something that is coherent enough to understand. Cruel Beauty was an exhausting yet wonderful read that left me emotionally drained by the end. Yet, despite this fact, I'd read it all over again in a heartbeat just to spend another moment with these characters.
Part Beauty and the Beast, Part The Goddess Test by Amiee Carter, Cruel Beauty follows the story of Nyx a girl whose maidenhood has been bargained off by her family so that she may be given to the demon overlord Ignifex as a bride. When she arrives at the Castle she has every intention of killing him and freeing her people from his devilish ways. However, Nyx is unprepared for life in the castle and she slowly starts to realize that Ignifex might not be as evil as he appears to be.
I loved Cruel Beauty. The Author took the very best elements from Beauty and the Beast and combined them with classic Greek lore to make the story her own. I really enjoyed seeing the mythology of Pandora combined with this very medieval type world filled with castles, lords, ladies, peasants and bon fire celebrations. It shouldn't have worked but to Rosamund Hodge's credit it did, and well.
I especially enjoyed that the character Nyx isn't some damsel in distress as one might expect. She's known for years that once she came of age she'd be expected to bed and kill the Demon Ignifex and reclaim the lands for her people. Nyx is a beautifully broken character and its clear that years of neglect from her Father have worn her down emotionally. Especially, because her twin sister Astria is showered with the love she desperately craves. This makes her deeply bitter and filled with resentment for anything and everyone.
Another character I enjoyed was Ignifex. He's "supposed" to be the villain of the story but it's clear he's just as up a creek without a paddle as Nyx is. It was very entertaining seeing him woo Nyx. I don't think he ever expected having to deal with some so stubborn and brash. Yet, he tried to make her happy despite the circumstances and that counts for something. His storry was also heartbreaking because you could sense all his efforts would in the end be for naught. I almost didn't want them to end up in love because I didn't want to see him hurt again and forced to find another bride to hopefully break the curse laid upon him.
Now despite really loving Cruel Beauty I did have a few small issues with the story.
Cruel Beauty is at its core a love story so naturally that means love triangle. While that didn't bug me necessarily it is the obviousness of this particular one that did. I pretty much figured out the twist with Shade within a few pages and so it didn't really matter to me how Nyx interacted with him even. I think if the clues had been more subtle I would of enjoyed it more. Now this might not be obvious to you so by all means disregard if it isn't but for me it was.
Another thing that sort of irked me was Astria. I didn't particularly like her change in demeanor near the end although I certainly understood why it needed to happen. It would of just been nice to see her change slowly throughtout instead of just when it suited the story. A scene here or there showing Astria shutting down her emotions and changing from carefree sister to a girl with a purpose should Nyx fail could've done wonders to explain things.
Despite being a debut, Cruel Beauty is written with such a flourish that you'd think it was coming from the pen of a seasoned professional. For those who love Fairy Tale retellings or just a good old fashioned love story I'd highly recommend making Cruel Beauty one of your must read, have to have it, books of the new year. With that being said, I'll be rating Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge ★★★★★.
*Copy reviewed provided by Balzer+Bray through Edelweiss. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated in an which way for providing them.
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