By Rosamund Hodge
Publication date: Jan. 28, 2014
Balzer + Bray, 352 pages
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.
— Goodreads.com description
I read Cruel Beauty like a bull in a china shop.
What’s that mean?
I got invested quickly, then plowed my way through to the end, not stopping to appreciate or fully process Rosamund Hodge’s intricate plotting and mythology references.
But, alas, I was too “AHHH LOVE STORY I NEED TO KNOW THE ENDING” and I just know I missed a ton.
So don’t be a bad reader like me!
Still, knowing that I totally bungled the reading process, I really liked this book for many reasons:
(1) It was a lovely look at all sides of humanity — the wickedness and kindness we all have within us.
(2) It’s VERY Beauty and the Beast, which I adore.
(3) The girl falls in love with the bad guy. It’s THE BEST when that happens and you root for it.*
(4) The story is set in a magical (but scary) house that’s constantly changing and has a zillion doors that each open into a different scary and/or magical fantasyland. Which I used to daydream about as a kid ALL THE TIME.
(5) Even though I sped through it, I did like the Greek mythology references!
One warning: The Beauty and the Beast reference in the book description is spot-on…but I didn’t get the Graceling comparison whatsoever. So just don’t go in expecting that, because you won’t get it. But! You will get a really fascinating, complex and twisted story that I enjoyed, and I hope you will too!
*Unless it’s in Tahereh Mafi’s books, then blech. I’m contradicting myself, I know. Hey, I’m human afterall. Oh! Which is what Cruel Beauty is about! BOOM, full circle.