Title: Cruel Beauty
Author: Rosamund Hodge
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Fairytale Retelling
Rating: 4.5 rounded down to 4 Star
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 – MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
I thought this was just a stunning book.
This book had me from the very first page. I loved the story of Beauty and the beast and I thought this was a really interesting beautiful way of going about retelling that story. I went it with very low expectations because I felt like it would mar one of my favourite fairytales, and I had heard such mixed things about the book. I am so glad I picked it up. It is just filled with quote worthy moments as well which is always a bonus.
Don’t look at the shadows too long or a demon might look back.
The plot of this book is just awesome. Nothing in this story is black or white, and this includes the characters. It had a plot that I thought I had an idea of where it was going but the more I read the more I second guessed myself and it really surprised me in a good way, even if it was a little bit confusing.
It stars Nyx, a twin whose father entered into a deal with The Gentle Lord or Ignifex, the demon king who lives up on the hill by their city, to have his wife conceive a child. Ignifex agreed, granting him twin girls but in exchange the father must choose one of those girls to be his wife. Thinking that he could outsmart Ignifex and his deal the father agreed, but sadly his wife died during childbirth. Choosing his first born daughter to be the one who must marry Ignifex, he trained her to be an assassin and a sacrifice, knowing full well that this mission would more than likely kill his daughter. The day finally comes and Nyx marries Ignifex and try not to die before she learns to understand the house that keeps on changing, and outsmart Ignifex so that she may end his life to avenge her mother. There is also some Greek mythology elements woven into the plot as well to add an extra element.
I thought all the characters were interesting, but Nyx was probably the best. She was brave and kind, but she was also angry and hateful. She accepts that she will die and she goes off to meet her fate without looking back. But then she has had to live with the knowledge that her father picked her for death, that he does not love her, and that her younger sister will get to continue living her life. She both loves and wants to protect her sister, but hates her at the same time for this knowledge.
If one of us had to die, it ought to be the one with poison in her heart.
I found her relationship with her sister probably one of the more interesting aspects of the character relations. Before Nyx goes off to Ignifex she views her sister as the innocent who has been spared all the ghastly things, that still has hope and doesn’t completely understand the situation that Nyx is in. But when she returns, she finds that this isn’t really the case, that her sister was hiding who she was just as much if not more than Nyx herself. Things probably would have been greatly different for Nyx if she had of just shown herself truly to her sister. I found that she actually had more poison in her heart just naturally than Nyx ever did knowing she was getting sent off to be killed.
If you’d ever asked, I would have crawled to help you. But you never wanted my help. You only wanted me to be your sweet and smiling sister. So I smiled and smiled, until I thought I would break.
I grew to love her relationship with Ignifex, I grew this love as they grew it for each other, the way a good love story should be told. The start of their relationship was very anger filled and hinted with a touch of fear when it came to Nyx. But one night when Nyx’s looking for a way to bring down the house leads her to a run in with demons that were second from ending her life, Ignifex comes to her rescue, facing the night time whispers and attacks that he hates so much. Then when they over come him, Nyx leaves him there to suffer. After leaving him for hours, she decides that she doesn’t want to be that person who lets someone suffer, someone who is not all he appears to be on the surface, and goes back to save him. From here starts their back and forth love hate relationship that slowly starts leaning more towards love.
“You deserve all that and more. It made me happy to see you suffer. I would do it all over again if I could. I would do it again and again. Every night I would torment you and laugh. Do you understand? You are never safe with me.”
“That’s what makes you my favourite. Every wicked part of you.”
Nothing is this book is as it seems when you first look at it. Both our villain and heroin are just as bad and as good as each other. Plus, Ignifex has a wonderful sense of humour that makes you want to forgive every bit of blood on his hands.
Since I don’t want to ruin the end of this book at all I think I should end this review here before I ramble on and start talking about it. All you really need to know that this was an awesome book and I will be suggesting it to anyone who appreciates people and stories that are not all black and white, and anyone who loved the story of beauty and the beast. The only reason why this book did not receive a 5 star rating from me was because parts of the ending where a bit iffy.
Till Next Time…