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Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge – Review



cruel-beauty-3dCRUEL BEAUTY (Cruel Beauty Universe #1)

Author: Rosamund Hodge

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Format: Hardcover, 352 pages

Published Date: January 28th 2014

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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.

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adri's review


“Don’t look at the shadows too long or a demon might look back.”

This is one of the best Beauty and the beast retellings out there. I know a lot of people could disagree with me, but without a doubt, I loved this book way more than A Court of Thorns and Roses. Cruel Beauty is a very creative and original (as original as a retelling can be) story that adds a little mix of Greek Mythology. The romance is my favorite part of the book, but there is so much more than just that. There’s mystery and suspense. The protagonist is a strong, witty, fierce woman. Wrapped up with all the intrigue and amazing world-building, it makes up for one amazing, edge-of-your-sit, intense read. I loved every second of it. 

Nyx is a bitter, angry girl who’s known her whole life that she is to marry the evil ruler of her kingdom, The Lord of Bargains, Ignifex, and find a way to kill him. She has bottled up rage and a deep hatred for her family: her father and aunt who’ve been training her to execute her mission and her lovely, clueless sister who is dotted on and allowed to live a life Nyx could never have.

The characters in this book were all very complex and realistic. One of the important things this book touches upon was the criteria of good and bad character; about questionable values and human characteristics and morality. Most of the characters in this book are difficult to deem either bad or good, including Nyx herself. There are times when she is cruel or vicious or selfish (sometimes even more so than Ignifex) but that was what made me fall in love with her character. 

“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 realized I was shaking as the words tumbled out of me. ‘I would do it again and again. Every night I would torment you and laugh. Do you understand? You are never safe with me.’ I drew a shuddering breath, trying to will away the sting of tears.

‘That’s what makes you my favorite.’ He reached up and wiped a tear off my cheek with his thumb. ‘Every wicked bit of you.”

The character who is the very manifestation of the thin line between good and evil is the Lord of Bargains, Ignifex. I adored this character- which should be unusual considering that he has crimson eyes and performs questionable deeds- but I loved the mystery surrounding his history and his current intentions, and most of all I loved his humor. He might actually be one of the wittiest character I’ve ever encountered. His banters with Nyx-and their relationship dynamics overall- were the highlight of this book, in my opinion. 

“Well, I’m already hoping there could be a dinner where you don’t try to stab me with your fork,” he said.
“You might need to make your peace with disappointment.”

There are many twists to the story that’ll leave your head reeling from shock. As it nears the last half of the book, it reaches a crescendo of unraveled mysteries and unexpected turns and heartbreak. I literally flew by those last few pages in a desperate attempt to piece it all together. And when I did, I was heartbroken…but only until the very last few pages where Hodge pieced it back together and left me a content, smiling mess.


about author

rosamund-hodgeRosamund Hodge

I love mythology, Hello Kitty, and T. S. Eliot. I write YA fantasy that draws on two of those things. My next novel is BRIGHT SMOKE, COLD FIRE (9/27/16), the first book in a duology about Romeo and Juliet and necromancers.
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