Author: Rosamund Hodge
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy
Release Date: January 28, 2014
Source: Balzer + Bray via Edelweiss
Goodreads rating: 3.99 out of 5.00 (420+ ratings)
Goodreads | The Reading Room
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.
Review by Nara
OH. MY. GOSH. This book. THIS BOOK.I was raised to marry a monster
A fusion of Greek mythology and fairy tale retelling- seriously, what's not to like? With beautiful, lyrical writing and incredibly complex characters and MYTHOLOGY, this debut has certainly put Rosamund Hodge on my list of authors to watch out for.
Cruel Beauty appears to be pitched as "Graceling meets Beauty and the Beast", but I'm not really sure how credible this claim is. There are certainly some aspects of it that take from the original fairy tale, but it really isn't much like Graceling at all. Maybe they just said that because the protagonist is a semi-assassin? I must say that Nyx isn't quite as badass as the protagonist from Graceling, but is flawed and multi-dimensional in quite an intriguing way. While she could get slightly annoying at times, it was quite interesting to see how she dealt with being having to be the sacrifice to appease the "Gentle Lord". Also rather interesting was the Nyx/Astraia dynamic. Astraia is Nyx' twin sister, and I suppose Nyx is quite resentful of the fact that she's the one to be sacrificed, whereas Astraia is able to live on. At first, Astraia definitely seems like a bit of a smiling airhead, but you do find out that there is perhaps a darkness behind the smile.
She smiles because she is safe. She is safe because I am going to die.Warning: there is a love triangle. But it perhaps isn't a conventional one. On the one hand we have Shade, Ignifex's slave/prisoner/whatever which was a bit instalovey, but I feel that was okay, because Nyx was expecting to die quite soon. I guess all sorts of decisions would be skewed if you're expecting to die in the next couple of days. I don't know, I feel like I never really shipped these two. I couldn't really see a proper connection- it was all just a bit bland.
Of course, on the other hand, we have Ignifex himself, who I LOVED. (Although I must admit, the title of "Gentle Lord" was just weird.)
If he had been human, I might have taken him for a gentleman.Even though the red eyes with cat pupils seems a bit weird/creepy. I loved the interactions between Ignifex and Nyx. Their first meeting literally had me laughing out loud (which I actually don't too often when reading books, to be quite honest. I mean, a lot of smiling, but not much actual laughing out loud.) What Nyx did was just so delightfully unexpected, and I think I just burst out laughing from complete shock. I don't want to spoil what she did, but just know that my reaction was HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
But his eyes had crimson irises, with cat-slit pupils.
The world building. *twirls* FLIPPING AWESOME. I guess in general, not much world building was done for the world outside of the castle, but the backstory about the castle and just the general background lore was GAHHHHHH SO GOOD! And the twist on the Greek mythology- I really love my mythology and to see it so deftly manipulated by Hodge practically had me squealing with delight.
The plot was slightly predictable- but I feel that this didn't take away from the story at all. It's quite character oriented, so while the plot was perhaps a bit shaky (and the ending was every so slightly disappointing- in the sense that I wanted more), overall, I'd definitely recommend reading this book.