Thursday, January 23, 2014

Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

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.

Publication Date: January 28, 2014

Cruel Beauty is a Beauty and the Beast retelling blended with a hefty dose of Greek mythology. The world building was original and I never knew what direction the story was going in. The characters weren’t always likable, but they were definitely interesting.

Nyx isn’t your typical heroine. She’s resentful and pretty much hates everyone for almost half of the book. I emphasized with her plight, but since the book is intended to be a Beauty and the Beast retelling, I expected her to have more characteristics associated with Beauty. Nyx was more like the anti-Beauty and her complaining grew a little tiring.

Once Nyx began interacting more with Shade and Ignifex, the book took off for me. I liked the love triangle angle and how it played out. Shade and Ignifex are both flawed, but their vulnerabilities keep them from being categorized completely as monsters.

There’s a lot of mythology in the book and I sometimes found it hard to wrap my head around it all. However, I liked the mystery aspect of the novel and trying to figure out what tied Ignifex to the mythology presented by the characters. Ignifex’s history once revealed was a complete surprise that culminated in a very exciting climax.

The ending was a little confusing and I think another chapter would’ve helped flesh out the final quarter of the novel. I wouldn’t even have minded if things ended earlier since my ambiguity about how I felt about the characters didn’t make me require a HEA.

If you like high fantasy novels or fairy tale retellings, I would definitely recommend Cruel Beauty. It was interesting and unique enough that I’m having a tough time figuring out a book to compare it to. It’s YA, but certainly has crossover appeal.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Thanks to the publisher for a copy of this novel for review.


  1. OOoh nice review! I am very anxious to read this one! Hearing lots of good things!

  2. I haven't heard anything about this book but now I kinda wanna check it out. Hmmmmm what to do? Perhaps a sample is in my future. :) Thanks for sharing your review, Heather. Very nicely done. WRITE ON!