Published by Balzer + Bray, HarperCollins Australia on January 28, 2014
Source: Edelweiss, Publisher
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Young Adult
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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.
Based off Beauty and the Beast but more Grim than Disney, Cruel Beauty is a fairy tale shrouded in cruelty and darkness, with a heartfelt radiant story at its core.
I’ve never met a character quite Nyx, one who struggles so hard to be good, yet is enveloped by darkness struggling to break free. Groomed to marry a demonic monster while her sweet, lovely sister receives love and affection from her dad, there’s no wonder why she skirts between loving her family and wanting to betray them all. After having those demons all her life, she is pressured into meeting her father’s wishes and becoming the saviour of Arcadia, which she struggles to do as she falls in love with the enemy.
In this strange and terrible house, at the mercy of my monstrous husband, I was not alone anymore.
Shade and Ignifex, the two leading men in the story reflect the two sides of Nyx. One who is kind and loving, the other cruel but fair. Wearing the same faces, they are both enigmatic and charming, Shade as the shadow of Ignifex who quickly gets into her good graces, and Ignifex who seems to be less cruel than the stories tell. The banter between Ignifex and Nyx was enjoyable, and although he’s built up to be this evil creature, you almost begin to symphasise with him in the end. The characters are multi-layered, complex and all seem to edge upon the theme of darkness/light- completely matching it’s name and inspiration, Beauty and the Beast.
There is a heavy dose of insta love, which is what prevents me from rating this 5 stars. You should never be thinking “well that was unexpected” when the characters kiss, which alludes to an ill developed romance. It happens multiple times throughout the novel and suddenly the word ‘love’ is used – what makes Nyx so different from eight other wives in the past? I would have liked a realistic build up, instead of relying on hormones to explain the attraction, especially since the evil lord Ignifex somehow changes from a captor to a suitor overnight.
Hatred was nothing new; I’d been hating my family all my life. But my family I had always had a duty to love, no matter how they wronged me. Ignifex, I had a duty to destroy. Crouching in the darkness, I realized that I would enjoy it very much.
The Greek mythology was a nice touch to Cruel Beauty, giving it some background and depth to the world that it’s set in. Instead of simply being a cursed Kingdom, we’re told stories about Pandora’s box and other tales. Some of these are delivered in the form of info dumps, but they are over quickly, and luckily I like Greek mythology.
While the novel is certainly captivating, none of the reviews I’ve read have mentioned how incredibly intense it was….in fact, it was too much at times. In all of it’s wickedness, whimsical writing and dramatic flair, I had to put it down at times to slowly process and return to it later. It’s definitely not a fluffy novel that you’ll breeze through, but it will absolutely blow your mind at the end.
He had seen me, in all my ugliness, and never hated me; and in that moment, nothing else mattered.
Cruel Beauty is a beautiful gothic romance that will captivate and envelop you into its dark, fairy tale setting. With an incredible debut like Cruel Beauty, Rosamund Hodge has set the standard for YA novels in 2014. I’m glad to see that Gilded Ashes is on the horizon, and I can’t wait!
Check out book trailer here.
I received an ARC of the book for review from Edelweiss and Balzer + Bray in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5