Author: Rosamund Hodge
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: January 1st 2014
Genre(s): Young Adult, Fantasy
Purchase: The Book Depository | Amazon
❝ 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. ❞
One thing that I can’t possibly deny is that the writing was inherently good. I might not have liked the plot or the characters, but Hodge has an engaging writing style. It’s beautiful but still easy to read and the main reason that I found myself flipping page after (virtual) page.
What I also really appreciated was that, though Cruel Beauty is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, the author was not afraid to change certain aspects of the fairy tale. She put a lot of her own details into the story which made it into something original. Nyx is nothing like Belle for example, the origin of the curse is different and the plot deviated from the original story. Most of all, I liked the connection with Greek mythology because it gave the story an actual background/cause.
All would be well if the bad aspects were minor, but the cons weighed out the pro’s in this case. My main issue was with protagonist Nyx. She was so spiteful and fickle that it made me want to put the book down multiple times. She hates her family, but then again she doesn’t. She hates her captor, but he’s also one sexy beast and she lusts after him. She’s in love with the first guy, or was it the second one? She wants to avenge her family, but she also wants to stay with her glorious evil lover forever. Wait what? It made everything so confusing, but it was mostly annoying in the eye-rolling, sighing-out-loud-kind.
Which brings me to my second point, which has something to do with Nyx’s character. What was up with the instalove? I’ve seen protagonists fall in love quickly, but nothing as extreme as Nyx did with one guy (and then the other). They only just met. I don’t go around kissing random guys I don’t know who help me out one time. I was kind of okay with the love triangle, if only for the sake of the plot and the ending, but I normally would have hated that too.
Lastly, the story was very predictable. Not in the sense that it progressed the same way as Beauty and the Beast did, but more because it was so obvious who was who and what was going to happen.
I realize that this review has turned into a kind of rant, but Cruel Beauty really frustrated me. Some of the things I mentioned above, such as the mythology, were well executed. However, the flaws ruined the book for me, which is why I’m not giving it a high rating.