ARC Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge – Story of darkness and light

January 24, 2014 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 4 stars, ARC Reviews, Books

ARC Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge – Story of darkness and lightCruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
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


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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Twitter @happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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49 responses to “ARC Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge – Story of darkness and light

  1. I SO want to read this…gaaaah! Every time I see a raving review, I desperately want this book! (I love fairy tale rewrites…though I’ve heard this one is more mythology then fairy tale). I will probably have trouble reading it slowly though…I tend to read everything fast.
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  2. I wanted to comment on your SJM reviews, but I still haven't read CoM so, yeah. I don't want to know anything about it so Cruel Beauty it is 🙂 I love me some good banter! The rest of the reviews I've read, have all mentioned that and it's something I'm excitedly looking forward to exploring 🙂 "and although he’s built up to be this evil creature, you almost begin to symphasise with him in the end." — just like in the real story, which I thoroughly adore. Haha. The L-word kept a lot of bloggers from giving it 5 stars. Most of my friends had that happen to them. I really like Greek mythology, or mostly every mythology for that matter, so I'm really intrigued by how it all combines into this fantasy world. Oooh, it has a trailer? *goes to check it out* Thanks for your thoughts, Jeann! 🙂
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    • Oh good, I know what you mean when you want to go into a book with no expectations. Cruel beauty is awesome, I'm lucky I've read some awesome books lately. I think it sounds up your alley!

  3. I literally just got an email from Amazon that said my copy of Cruel Beauty was just shipped! I'm so excited to read this book. I quickly skimmed your review, but I'm so glad to hear you enjoyed it! I think I might take a couple minutes to just stare at the cover and appreciate it's beauty when I finally get it =)
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  4. Hmmm, I have read quite a few reviews for this one, but yours has made me want to read it as soon as it comes available, even if I'm not very happy to hear about a possible love triangle…

    What I'm the most intrigued about is the mixing of the Beauty & Beast retelling with the Greek mythology that you've mention.

    Thanks for a great review, Jeann!

  5. YEAH! I'm so glad you liked this Jeann! I've seen nothing but positive reviews for this, and it really sounds like my type of story, and I'm really encouraged by the fact that you liked it so much! 😉 The characters sound pheonominal and so well-developed – which is always awesome! And the Greek mythology aspect of things and the intensity of the story? YES PLEASE! The only thing you mentioned that concerns me is the insta-love; but I think I'll definitely be able to overlook this fact if the rest of the story is good (which, based on what you've said, it sounds like it is!) Thanks for sharing Jeann, and, as always, brilliant review! xD
    Zoe @ The Infinite T recently posted…Escape from Eden Blog TourMy Profile

    • Yay, great to hear I've convinced you with this one, it's awesome! The characters are definitely very different and unique. No problems Zoe, I hope you get to read it soon it really is awesome.

  6. I'm so glad you enjoyed this one so much! I LOOOVE it. One of my favorite books, definitely. I agree, Nyx is such a unique character in terms of her structure and character arc. I love it so much. And I love how you noted that Shade and Ignifex both reflect the contrasting aspects of Nyx's personality! I didn't put that together, but it's very true.
    Blythe Harris recently posted…Review: After Eden by Helen DouglasMy Profile

  7. So glad to see you enjoyed this one Jeann! I loved Nyx and Ignifex, but like you said, the insta-love was quite bothersome. The Greek mythology was excellent, as well as how intense the novel was. 😀

  8. What's interesting about this book, and what made it tough to review for me, is that all the overnight stuff that happens with Nyx and Ignifex really hits at, like, 3/4 of the way through the novel, and it follows a big thing where he kind of proves himself. But it FEELS so fast. Does that makes sense?
    Kate Bond recently posted…Cruel Beauty: reviewMy Profile

  9. Yay I'm glad that you enjoyed this book so much! I was in the minority of this book and didn't particularly love it, but I'm glad that you enjoyed Nyx's character. She definitely was well-developed and I'm glad that the two love interests got your attention. I agree about the insta-love, it kind of ruined a lot of the book for me because a lot of it was based off of the romance, which was depressing. I wasn't a fan of the mythology, though, but I can see where you may have found it to be an intriguing aspect to the book. Great review, Jeann! <33
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  10. Yay, so glad you enjoyed it! I loved the romance in this one … their banter chemistry was yummy. Nyx was different because she was wicked and honest with who and what she was. I loved that! She was definitely no Belle – lol.
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    • I know, the banter was awesome! I like it when they clearly have chemistry. And Yes, Nyx didn't need to pretend that she was someone who she wasn't. And she seemed so authentic as a result.

  11. I've just added this to my GR to read list, awesome review Jeann, you've completely sucked me in to wanting this one. It sounds a little like the Everneath series by Brodi Ashton and that cover is stunning!
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  12. So many positive reviews for this one coming in! So excited to get my hands on it – I love me a dark fairytale retelling 😉 But man, I think those weird names are quite unnecessary! I kept tripping over them as I read your review. Damnit with the insta-love though, I was hoping for some gradual romance. Great review Jeann!
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  13. I have read so many things about this book and all the reviews were super positive! I really need to read this one in the near future as well. I don't know whether I can survive the intenseness of this book, but I'm sure I will. Maybe. Thanks for the review and I'm glad you enjoyed it a lot!
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  14. I can't WAIT to read this. I've seen (basically) 4 and 5 star reviews all over the place! I'm a little worried about how intense it is…yes, I'm a horrifically fast reader and my mind can glaze over. I think I'll want this in print, to make sure I stay focused. But I still really do want to read it! The insta-love bit is a touch annoying, though. Great review! XD
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