Monday, December 29, 2014

Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

From Goodreads: 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. 

My Rating: 4 hearts for the first 3/4 of the book; 3.5 hearts for the last 1/4 

Thoughts on the Novel: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge was a book I wasn’t planning on reading until I searched through my Kindle, looking for a fairy tale retelling. Remembering that Cruel Beauty was based on Beauty and the Beast, I decided that this retelling might be worth a try.

As a retelling, Cruel Beauty is a very loose one; and Nyx is definitely nothing like the sweet Belle. Instead, Nyx is full of anger and hatred, yet surprisingly easy to like and understand because she has grown up her whole life knowing that she is to be sacrificed for her father’s bargain with Ignifex. 

I also liked Ignifex because he wasn’t at all how the other characters portrayed him as. Like Nyx, I thought he would be this scary demon; but, he turned out to be a charming, witty character who embraced his role as the liaison between the Kindly Ones and the people of Arcadia (which I had no problems with because if you’re going to be evil, why not embrace it?). The other characters in Cruel Beauty, however, were quite one-dimensional, and when there was an attempt to make them more complex (e.g. as in the case of Astraia, Nyx’s twin sister), their motives remained rather unclear.

The romance, though, would have to be my least favourite aspect of Cruel Beaty. Not only did I think that Nyx fell for Ignifex kind of quickly, but there was an unexpected love triangle as well. It should be noted, however, that the love triangle does make sense later on.

On the other hand, I really enjoyed the worldbuilding, which incorporated a lot of Greek mythology and Roman culture. Unfortunately, the worldbuilding did become more confusing towards the end, and the book concluded with an ending that I just didn’t understand. 

Cruel Beauty was released in January 2014 by Balzer + Bray.  

Comments About the Cover: I’m not really a fan of the rose being interwoven with a bunch of stairs.


  1. I definitely enjoyed how the characters played out as well. It isn't all the time that you come across a sort of "wicked" heroine. Ignifex was actually very likable. For some reason, I thought the insta-love actually did work in this book, but it's definitely not as good as the worldbuilding and mythology here.

    Lovely review!

    Aimee @ Deadly Darlings

  2. I haven't read this one, but after hearing so much about it last year I want to pick it up for sure. I love the additional Greco-Roman tidbits into the story. Thanks for the heads up on the insta-love and love triangle. Can't seem to get away with those in YA.

  3. hm, sounds like I should not listen to this one on audio, given how confusing some parts can be. Thanks for the heads up on that. I'm disappointed about the romance, since that's my number one reason for reading Beauty and the Beast retellings. But, I'm still curious. At least the beast character sounds interesting.

  4. Cruel Beauty is a clever, absorbing, and intelligent debut. I very much look forward to more from Rosamund Hodge.
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  5. I was so totally excited about this book. Love everything at first glance. Love the title, love the cover, love the summary. What's not to love right. I wasn't disappointed. The book was everything I expected and more. It was dark, it was romantic, it was exciting, it was a bit creepy, it was beautiful.

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