Novel: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge | Goodreads
Release Date: January 28, 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Rating: 4.25 stars
Originally Published On: A Charming Reverie
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.
I really liked this book. It’s a very unique retelling of Beauty and the Beast. It was different than any book I’ve ever read, and that’s why I was able to overlook all the minor flaws. Because it’s an original fairytale retelling, with a very original world/setting, an interesting plot, and interesting characters. It’s a puzzle; the plot is a problem to solve. I loved the mystery. I liked the protagonist, Nyx. She’s someone I could be myself with- we’d be super sarcastic and pessimistic together. I liked Ignifex- he reminded me of Adrian from VA, Warner from Shatter Me, Noah from Mara Dyer. Not exactly the same as any of those characters, but he’s the guy you try to hate because you think (know) he’s no good for you, but you’re inexplicably drawn to him- his chiseled jaw, his sardonic wit. And somehow, he ends up being perfect for you all along. By you, I mean the main character because as unfortunate as it is, we the readers are unable to engage physically or otherwise with a fictional character (trust me I’ve tried). Thus, we live vicariously through the protagonist (sigh). But I digress.
Don’t be put off by the “love triangle”. It isn’t what it seems at all. Just wait until you get closer to the end and you’ll find yourself a nice little twist. The author doesn’t ever come right out and blatantly explain things. There’s no scene at the end where everything is explained. You are given hints and have to piece it together yourself. Hodge helps you, and by the end you think you know everything. But it’s all based on predictions, inferences, and implications. I liked that though. I found the plot and history easy to infer and understand by the end, even if it wasn’t all laid out on the table like a Thanksgiving feast. It keeps me thinking and wondering (in a very good way) even after I’ve finished the book. It keeps me curious.
This book felt like a standalone novel to me. I definitely would like to see a companion novel, a prequel, or another book/fairytale retelling set in this world. There are fantasy elements, demons, Greek mythology, even older mythology, and historical fiction elements in this book. It was such a unique and wonderful read and it has made me thoughtful even hours after finishing it. I definitely recommend it!
Thanks for reading.