Author: Rosamund Hodge
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Buy This Book: Amazon / Book Depository
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 summary)
I think I went into Cruel Beauty with ridiculously high expectations because of all the wonderful reviews I had seen for it. But I have to admit that I seem to just be one of those people who didn't "get" it. I feel like I would need to buy the romance in order to really fall in love with this book and I didn't. But before I start in on my review I really want to stress a point: This book was incredible. It wasn't really for me but it didn't take away from the fact that the author produced one amazing piece of work and that was clear with every line I read.
The retelling of Beauty and the Beast aspect really intrigued me, mainly because I am a Disney child at heart and who didn't love Beauty and the Beast. But don't expect any loveable secondary characters, or a sweet, innocent heroine or the gentle beast even. Expect demons, darkness, a shadow and some of the most detestable characters I have had the displeasure to meet in fiction.
Nyx is our heroine and to me she is not the kind of heroine that I can get behind. She is really and truly a total bitch and manages to make Katniss Everdeen look like the most cheerful character you could ever meet in fiction. Yes, like Katniss, she has her reasons to be the way she is but unlike Katniss I don't love her for it, I loath her for it. She's determined to kill the Gentle Lord from the beginning but she changes her mind so much and so quickly that it made my head hurt. This book contains one of the worst cases of insta-love meets pointless love triangle that I have ever seen. She meets Shade, who's slave to Ignifex and basically his shadow, and they're practically declaring their love for each other from the word go. Even though he can't even speak and she's been around him a grand total of five minutes. But wait, she loves Ignifex but doesn't want to because he is evil. No wait, she loves Shade. No Ignifex... Shade... Ignifex. Gah, shut up girl and pick one, they are both as bad as each other but the back and forth is killing me so please PICK ONE!
Nyx spends most of her time not thinking about how to save Arcadia, which the Gentle Lord rendered from the rest of the Earth. She mostly spends her time thinking about how much she wants to kiss either Shade or Ignifex. To me I did not see the appeal with either and that's probably where the problem starts. How can you go into a love story (sort of) and not be rooting for the romance or even getting it. She also makes some really silly decisions that, if you see my Goodreads updates you'll know, I just couldn't wrap my head around. There is a moment very early on where she thinks she has found a way to kill him. But instead of letting it happen she changes her mind and has to go back to help him. WHAT!?! WHY?!? Ignifex dying would be your job done, it's practically the whole reason that you are there and you want to go back to help him.
I guess I can see why some people might go for him - they say everyone loves a bad boy who treats you like crap, right? Well, not me! He gets shown to us as this evil, horrible demon who has red eyes and everything and who makes bargains with desperate people that never work out in their favour. I have to be honest, Supernatural has taught me a lot over the seven years I've been watching it and the most important lesson is that you don't date the demons, you date one of the hot as hell demon hunters or both if you can manage it. Where were Sam & Dean, I was waiting for them to swoop in and kill Ignifex, save Arcadia and finally give me some male characters to swoon over. I mean he is the very reason that Nyx grew up without a mother, without the love of her father and betrothed to him and she wants some of that. I'm not buying it.
|Please kill Ignifex for me!!!|
Our other secondary characters are just as weird and, for me, unlikeable. Her sister at the very beginning is very naive, innocent and childlike. But nearer the end she might just have become my favourite character and slightly likeable for me because of how mental she was. Nyx's father is is unbelievably cold and distant and then her Aunt is sleeping with her dead sister's husband.
Now the storyline is something that I really enjoyed at points. I would have preferred if this was less of a Beauty and the Beast retelling. I would have enjoyed it more if the whole romance had been left out because I didn't feel that it was needed. If it had been Nyx just trying to save Arcadia from him than it would have been a much better story for me. I liked them more at the very beginning when they are at each others throats and determined to not let the other succeed. The dialogue between them was very funny and I preferred Ignifex as the enemy rather than the love interest.
I honestly can't fault the author in her writing or her research. The mythology side to it is very detailed, at times it was a little too detailed for me, but you can tell she has spent a large amount of time on research. The writing was beautiful and although I didn't love the story myself, I appreciated that it was so well written. I got a lot more into this book at about the 70% mark when the story picked up and the beautiful writing was what had made me stick with the story for that long.
This felt like an absolutely stunning piece of work and felt unbelievably unique to me. It really does offer something special but I just don't "get" it. I can't buy the romance at all and that made this really hard to enjoy. This is the kind of book that you can really fall in love with and I definitely still recommend it. I just like my characters a bit more likeable and my male leads less creepy.
*I received a copy of this novel from the author/publisher/publicist via Edelweiss in exchange for a free and honest review and received no monetary compensation for this review.