Monday, September 22, 2014

Cruel Beauty Review

Cruel Beauty
Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Visit the Author's website HERE
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publishing Date: January 28, 2014
Goodreads Summary:
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.
This was a library read! Part of my slow transition to get back to the library :) Buy it from the Book Depository today.

My Thoughts:
I was excited to read a fairy tale retelling. 'Cruel Beauty' was on my radar since it released this past winter. Its Beauty and the Beast connections is what caused me to pick it up in the first place, but by the time I closed the cover I was amazed that anyone could even make that connection.

The story starts off with a bang. We the reader are expected to hit the ground running. Nothing in the world is explained. Sometimes this works well for an author, here it just left me bewildered and took me right out of the story. And while on the subject of confusing, can I just mention the end: whaa??

Nyx is nothing like Belle. Belle is light hearted and sees the best in everyone. Nyx most definitely was not. She was raised from birth to marry an evil ruler and has been plotting his murder just as long, yet Nyx didn't feel disciplined enough to be an assassin for a demon. This part fell to another case of BA girl doesn't actually complete any BA moves. But still, even though Nyx is such a dark, depressing character, she really worked. Angry, yet slightly caring, full of dark malice, flawed, unwanted. It was an interesting mixture that I don't think I have read in an MC before.

Nyx's relationship with Ignifex was very dark, also very full of anger and selfishness. I was also annoyed each time Nyx threw a tantrum and would hit Ignifex; physical abuse ain't my thang. I had to give a big sigh for this as well: it was pretty 'insta-love' right off the bat. Their whole relationship just progressed too rapidly. I struggled to believe a girl who had been training for years to murder her betrothed could so quickly fall in love with that very same man. Something like this called for more time. Overall, I did not find their relationship was very well explored.

As for the plot? Well, let me quote a friend from Goodreads:
The plot kind of falls by the wayside. Nyx isn't very diligent in her quest to topple the evil lord to begin with. Once a certain revelation reveals her initial plan may not be the best idea, she basically abandons it and decides her purpose in life is to be naught but a lovey-dovey wife.
My words exactly.

I believe that 'Cruel Beauty' could have been so much more. The idea of Nyx's character and her relationship with Ignifex had some great bones. I just wish the author had been given more pages to tell it properly. With all the dark, angry love, this book needed a slow burn. Overall, it just didn't feel fully developed to me. I would love to see these ideas again however and dearly hope someone does try this combination again soon. 'Cruel Beauty' wasn't a complete flop for me, but it surely wasn't a hit. 2 stars and I can only recommend to strong fans of Beauty and the Beast retellings and readers who enjoy a dark, gothic romance.


  1. I did want much more from the romance in this book -especially since Beauty and the Beast is all about the romance, but I did enjoy it for the most part and found the world building and the atmosphere to be very interesting. I can totally see your point of view though, this book was not perfect. I hope the author's next fairy tale retelling will be better!

  2. Hopefully she will improve with her second novel *crosses fingers*

  3. I read your Goodreads review several times. You and I had almost the exact same thoughts about this one. I am interested in finding another Beauty retelling out there. Know any good ones?

  4. One of my favorites is definitely Beauty by Robin McKinley.