Review: Cruel Beauty – Rosamund Hodge

Release Date: January 28th 2014
Published By: Balzer + Bray
Pages: 342
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Purchase: Click here to purchase

Rating: 4 out of 5

Synopsis: 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: A Beauty and the Beast retelling, but this is no fairytale. Cruel Beauty is the story of Nyx whose father bargained her life away many years ago. Her whole life, Nyx has known that she would be sacrificed for her father’s bargain, and her whole life she has dreaded the day it will happen. Not only does she fear going to live with the Prince of Demons, but she also knows that her mission is to bring about the destruction of her betrothed. And nothing scares her more once she starts to fall in love with him.

I will admit, I have missed feelings about this book. Well, actually, that may not be totally accurate; I have mixed feelings about the ending.

The writing in Cruel Beauty has a beautiful prose, and is filled with wonderful descriptions. The mixture of character traits is quite enthralling as well - each character being far more than one dimensional. Each character is fighting their good and bad sides, trying to reconcile who they are “supposed” to be, and who they actually are. Each character is hiding something, for various reasons, and as friendships and romance blossoms, it is hard to not feel for Nyx and her new husband.

Nyx is constantly struggling with herself - she knows that she has a dark side, and she really struggles to deal with this side of herself. She is filled with both hate and love, especially where her family is involved - but one cannot fault her for this, as her whole life she has been an “object” to be sacrificed - a means to an old debt and the self-sacrificing destruction of Prince of Demons, while her sister is loved and doted on. Nyx overall is a good character - brutally honest with herself and she a sharp tongue and poison in her heart.

But I have to admit that I found her new husband, Ignifex to the shining light in this story. He has many different sides to him, and you see this right from the moment that Nyx walks through the door. She is expecting to find a beast, instead she finds something a little different. Don’t get me wrong, Ignifex can be horrible, he is indifferent towards Nyx and he certainly encourages bargains with people that will generally lead to some horrible situation. He has done a lot of evil things in his lifetime. But, he is also charming, warm, funny and somewhat repulsed with himself. He, after all, is as much a captive in this situation as Nyx.

There is of course another guy involved. Shade. And although while I don’t normally like triangles, I felt this one worked. Shade and Ignifex are both what Nyx needs - light and dark, cruel and caring. Shade, who is the shadow of Ingnifex, quickly befriends Nyx, helping her with her new life, and with her mission - to destroy Ingifex. Both Shade and Ignifex have their own charm of course, and soon Nyx struggles with her feelings for both the beast and his shadow. I have to admit, that although made out to be “the beast”, I connected with Ignifex better.

Where my mixed comes into it is that there was somewhat an insta-love scenario… and while I admit that I quite liked the characters involved, I didn’t think there was enough development involved for “love” to be involved. And whilst I quite liked the ending, I have to admit, that if this happened in a lot of other books, I would be like “really???”, and I would be bitterly disappointed with the characters and the events that unfolded. But, somehow, it did work for this particular storyline.

I loved the mixture of mythology and fairytale. I thought this gave the story a new and refreshing twist, as well as adding depth to the storyline. I think this also allowed a somewhat darker element to be added to the storyline. The storyline does get somewhat complex, but that is where I found this richly dark and gothic tale pulls though - the cruelty, the complexities, and the rawness of a heartfelt story.



“Knowing the truth is not always a kindness.”

“That’s what makes you my favorite.”

“They said that love was terrifying and tender, wild and sweet, and none of it made any sense. But now I knew that every mad word was true.”

“If you start wondering how this house works, you’ll likely go mad. That could be amusing, I suppose. Especially if it’s the kind of madness that causes you to run naked through the hallways. Do feel free to indulge in that anytime.”

“I coudn’t be kind to him after what he’d done, couldn’t be cruel after what I had done”

“All it had cost me was everything”

What do you think?

  • I think I gave this one a 4/5 stars (or maybe 4.5/5?). I love love love Ignifex too! Shade was bleh…I just did not like how Nyx liked Shade instantly. I really love the connection between greek mythology and Beauty and the Beast retelling as well. I thought it was very unique and neat. I had a bit of an issue with the ending as well. I was confused about it and didn’t understood it after a week lol (I had to ask some bloggers to explain it for me b/c I was like “wth did I just read?” during the ending). But still, I thought this book was super awesome.

    • Kristy says:

      Yes, the ending was rather different, but I think the story on a whole was strong and well-written. I would be interested to see if Rosamund Hodge does any future books with a mixture of mythology and retelling - as I would certainly read another one of her books like this one :)
      Kristy recently posted…Review: When Mr Dog Bites - Brian ConaghanMy Profile

  • Annie says:

    I think the thing I liked most about this book was its complexity - how the characters could acknowledge their darker sides and wrestle with them but still be interesting, “good” characters. It’s a balance that is tough to achieve but Hodge did it well.

    I also really liked the blending of mythology and fairy tale.

    And I love the quotes you included. Very nice sampling of the beautiful writing and some of the great parts of the story :)

    • Kristy says:

      I loved the fact that the characters acknowledged (and sometimes embraced) their darker sides. I felt that gave them a lot of depth, as well as making them interesting and complex characters.

      And I am glad you liked the quotes I used (it is sometimes hard picking quotes, so thanks for your comment!)
      Kristy recently posted…Review: When Mr Dog Bites - Brian ConaghanMy Profile

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