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
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
Purchases made support this blog
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.
- 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!
- 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??
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.
Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
© 2014, Anya. All rights reserved.