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Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge eARC {4.5 Stars}

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge is a crazy awesome combination of a Beauty and the Beast retelling plus a whole new magic system plus Greek mythology. I read it pretty much in one day (snow day, woot!) even though I was supposed to wait for my reading buddy to catch up >.>. I just couldn’t resist! Cruel Beauty is spooky, tough, romantic, twisty, and all of the rest of those awesome adjectives :D.

Note: I received an eARC of Cruel Beauty through Edelweiss for an honest review. Some things may be different in the final version.

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge eARC {4.5 Stars}

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Published by Balzer & Bray on Jan. 28th, 2014
Genres: Fairytale Retelling, YA
Page Length: 352 pages
How I got my copy: NetGalley
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
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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.

4.5 Stars

Strengths:

  • Nyx is everything I love in a heroine. She is quite damaged, almost an anti-hero(ine), but I completely get her. I understand her guilt and anger and conflict so well. I’m not even sure why I understand her so well, since my life has been kind of the opposite (no demons around here to make bargains with it seems), but Nyx is phenomenal.
  • Speaking of awesome characters, Cruel Beauty is full of them, but my other favorite is Nyx’s sister. You won’t understand why at first, but then you will and it’s awesome :D.
  • You might think there is a love triangle, but you must remember that it is Beauty and the Beast *cackles maniacally*.
  • Cruel Beauty is chock-full of schemes and trickery. I in fact almost had trouble keeping track of everyone’s schemes, but that is exactly what I love in a fantasy: complicated plot that fits nicely together in the end. So many people are making so many different bargains and promises, it was great trying to figure out where the loopholes were hidden.
  • Beauty and the Beast retellings have a big job in the romance department obviously, but it’s doubly true for me since I despise Stockholm syndrome romances. However, Cruel Beauty pulls off the romance wonderfully without any gnashing of teeth on my part ;-).
  • There is a whole new magic system on top of the Greek myths and Beauty and the Beast type things and it involves the four elements *happy dance*. I love magic that plays on the more traditional nature magic stuff, so it was really fun learning how this system worked.
  • For a while we think that demons are in charge of all of these shenanigans, but the real culprits are creepy and awesome and eerie way beyond demons!

Weaknesses:

  •  The Greek myth incorporation is clever since Beauty and the Beast is basically the myth of Persephone retold and it’s fun the wonder what a country cut off from the progress of the world would think about the Greek gods. However, it just didn’t mesh for me. It kept felt jarring to reference the Greek gods by name and have the characters still worship them during a high fantasy retelling.
  • Nyx’s thoughts got a bit repetitive when she was trying to figure out what to do. Hopefully this is smoothed out a bit in the final version.
  • Cruel Beauty is Beauty and the Beast, so I shouldn’t be surprised that true love saves the day, but a girl can hope can’t she??

Summary:

I haven’t read any Beauty and the Beast retellings until now, but Cruel Beauty did an amazing job incorporating the cool parts of that story with a whole bunch of other fun elements to make a new fantasy world of its own (haha, literally). I really wish there was a sequel since that Hermetic magic system was just so awesome! If you are looking for a solid high fantasy with a deliciously damaged heroine and a splash of creepy, definitely check out Cruel Beauty.

4.5 Stars
Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings

– Anya

 

 Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

© 2014, Anya. All rights reserved.

Comments

  1. Cruel beauty was so amazing! I loved Nyx with her wicked side, and her desires for revenge, one of best MC that I’ve ever read about. And Ignifex… WoW, I’m in love with this man. Their romance was so perfect…
    I’m a huge fan of retellings, and this one was a mixture of all my favourite fairy tales (Beauty and the Beast, Rumpelstiltskin…) with some Greek mythology.
    I read the entire book in two days and I enjoyed every page.

    Great review!
    Tina recently posted…Tow Dolly RentalMy Profile

    • So agreed! I loved that Nyx’ sister wasn’t all that you expected her to be either ;-). Lots of fun characters in this one :D

  2. A damaged MC?! Anya, I want this one so bad. I can tell I will visit the bookstore Tuesday.

  3. Sweet! I’ve been excited about this book since I read the previews, but I’ve been reading somewhat mixed reviews. The positive reviews are starting to outnumber the negative ones though, so I’m optimistic that it will be as good as I first imagined :)
    Katie @ Doing Dewey recently posted…Sex and the Founding FathersMy Profile

    • I think it’s definitely for a certain type of reader. Nyx is almost an anti-hero, which I loved but some people seem to have trouble connecting with her then

  4. Really really really really really really really need to read this. Beauty and the Beast is my favourite fairytale! Glad you liked it :) I hope your throat isn’t sore from the cackling.

  5. Sadly, this one didn’t work as well for me as it did most others. I really disliked the Shade element and wasn’t able to connect with Nyx. Otherwise, I loved the writing and overall story and adaptation of the classic. I thought The Gentle Lord was a great character and would love to read more about him. So happy you enjoyed this one :-) I’ll be reading more from this author.

    • Haha, evidently you aren’t as grouchy as I am internally ;-). I wasn’t thrilled about the love triangle thing, but I kind of liked that reimagining of the beast versus prince thing.

  6. I’ve been quite excited for this one! Even though I’ve seen rather mixed reviews, my love of anti-hero type characters makes me think I’ll end up liking this one quite a bit. You giving it a great review makes me even less nervous about having pre-ordered it! <3

    • Mwahaha, anti-hero enjoyment is in your future! I hope you really like it :D I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to get a finished copy when it comes out….

  7. Despite the repetitiveness it sounds like this was a total win! What an interesting take on B&B
    Felicia S (The Geeky Blogger) recently posted…Top Off Tuesday: The Wicked Ways of a Duke by Laura Lee GuhrkeMy Profile

    • Definitely a win! I generally assume that the repetitiveness issues might be smoothed in the final copy as well *fingers crossed*

  8. Jessica @ a GREAT read says:

    OOoh nice review! I’ve been dying to read this one, but it was one that Edelweiss constantly rejected me over! I did add some of my stats in on a few recent requests so hoping that pans out!

    But I love B&B and retellings and Greek mythology so I soooo very eager for this one!! There’s going to be a novella sometime later that is supposed to be a Cinderella tale if I remember correctly. Same world, just a new (I’m guessing) cast of characters!

    Great review!

    • Ah man, I hear ya! Yes, all the stats! Otherwise they can’t really tell how big of a blog you have ya know?

      Oo, I’m excited about the Cinderella novella :D

  9. Doggone it! You evil people need to stop posting reviews on this book until I’ve had a chance to read it! You’re just making me twitch because I can’t read it right this second. Evil. … ;)

    Still, this really does sound awesome, and it’s your first B&B retelling (aside from Disney, I presume)? If you’re interested in another, while it’s not as dark and the narration isn’t for everyone, I really enjoyed Robin McKinley’s “Beauty.” And I know I’ve read others, but none come to mind right now. Later. :)
    Kel @ No Cucumber Sandwiches recently posted…Top Ten Things on My Reading WishlistMy Profile

    • Haha, soooooooon! This is the call of ARCs though right? I just want books more when I can’t read an early copy since I get even more excited!

      Yes, aside from Disney ;-). I’ve been meaning to read some McKinley!

  10. I wanna read this one. The cover itself is beautiful, and I love fairy tale retellings.

    • It took me a while to figure out what was going on in the cover honestly, haha, and to realize that there is Nyx on the staircase *fail* But now I love it!

  11. I’m glad to hear you enjoyed Cruel Beauty, so I’m looking forward to reading it. Beauty and the Beast is my favorite fairy tale, and I’ve read several retellings (some good, some not so good). You should check out Of Beast and Beauty if you’re interested in reading other Beauty and the Beast retellings. :) Thanks for your review, Anya!

    • Awesome, I hope you enjoy it :D. Haha, thanks for the rec! I need to take a break between retellings since I don’t like comparing them too much, but I’ll keep that one in mind in the future ;-)

  12. No fair. Nyx will always be the lead player in Kameron Hurley’s ‘Bel Dame’ trilogy to me. I wonder if I could get used to it reading a book like this; or if I would always be wondering what happened to the bugs and Rhys. =)

    Or perhaps I just would plow through it singing ‘Tale as old as time…’
    Nathan (@reviewbarn) recently posted…Urban Fantasy Review: ‘Blackbirds’ by Chuck WendigMy Profile

    • Haha, that is always the problem with unusual but not completely unique character names! I didn’t get much of a Disney vibe for this one ;-)

  13. I am really excited for this one! I read Beastly and I thought that wasn’t bad and this one seems way more intense!
    MIssie @ A Flurry of Ponderings
    Missie recently posted…The Winter PeopleMy Profile

    • Yey, I didn’t read Beastly so I can’t compare, but I think that this was is a bit faster paced from what I’ve heard

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