Sunday, January 19, 2014

Review: Cruel Beauty

Title: Cruel Beauty
Author: Rosamund Hodge
ISBN: 0062224735
Book Genre: Fantasy / Paranormal
Release Date: January 28th 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Book Source: Edelweiss

Goodreads Synopsis:

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.


I requested this book from Edelweiss because I heard a lot of people talk about it, and frankly I was quite curious as to what the book was talking about. An added bonus was that it was a standalone, as well as the fact that I couldn't believe how long it took me to figure out that there was a girl running down the stairs on the cover.

Whenever I heard anyone talk about this book, their automatic explanation was: It's a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, which I guess in turn isn't exactly incorrect, but this story is so much more than just that. It's not just the retelling of Beauty and the Beast, oh no, add to that an interesting twist on Rumpelstiltskin, and Scheherazade. Not to mention that it has a lot of elements from both Howl's Moving Castle as well as Supernatural (the series).

The book talks about Nyx, a girl that was raised with nothing but pure hatred in her heart and just one goal in life: Kill The Gentle Lord. She had to use whatever means necessary, and if her death was pretty much imminent? Well, then so be it. Nobody cared about her well being. In order to get close enough to do that though, she had to first marry him and fulfill a deal he had with her father before she was even born. Her father had struck a deal with The Gentle Lord, Ignifex, that had gone very very wrong and now she had to be scarified and to pay the price, but also, she had to save everyone else. The problem with this plan is; landing in the castle, nothing is what it seems. Not the Gentle Lord, or the Castle itself, or the occupants, or even how to accomplish her mission. Her priorities begin shifting the more she realizes that there's so much at stake here and that killing Ignifex might not do them that much good - if she ever got around to actually accomplishing it.

Now, onto a world where Greek mythology was pretty much the foundation of everything, it was studied religiously and as a form of historical fact. A world where Arcadia is one of the rare civilizations still standing because of a deal a king made with the Kind Lords to keep his kingdom safe and protected, where the use of Hermetic sigils was everything. The world building was albeit a bit confusing at first, but it was certainly something very intriguing. I am personally very fascinated by Greek mythology and this book definitely fixed some wrong facts I had about some stories. There were so many of them told in the mix and I just sank into them loving every drop that was poured out.

The characters were one of those really bad ones that you in turn learn to love. There's something about their inner evilness that's hooking, especially with Ignifex who tries to justify his justice system, when all his deals are quite flawed. He's pretty much the advocate of be careful what you wish for, and that people should learn that no matter what deal you strike with him, you can never win. In his mind, anyone who's desperate enough to come to him, is bad inside and deserves what he gets. The interactions between him and Nyx were absolutely hilarious, considering pretty much every time she's with him she's trying to kill him. Also Shade's character was quite well crafted, I really did love reading everything there was about those three very conflicted but pretty much three-dimensional characters. The ones I did hate and found a little hard to grasp were those of Nyx's family, all three of them. Her father, her aunt and her sister.

The story has an interesting but very slow start for the first five or so chapters, that's not to say they weren't entertaining, but at some point you get anxious about what's going to happen next, when the climax would take place, and what mind-blowing secrets will be unfolding. Soon though the story definitely picks up and becomes so much better!

What confused me most was the whole concept of Sundering, and the explanation of Hermetic sigils, I think some more time spent on those two would have been good for me to get the complete picture. But other than that, the writing, the world building and the main characters were all incredible, well written and definitely well developed. And with all those story twists I mentioned before as well as that part about Greek mythology? In my book this would have definitely guaranteed it the five out of five stars. The reason it's not getting it though, is because I wasn't so fond of the ending. I think it's one of those controversial endings like The Night Circus, some people love it, others think it could have been done better. In my case I think this one could have been done better. But that didn't diminish its awesomeness in any way!

Rating: 4/5.


  1. Well, Aliaa, guess what :P
    I just knew that there is a girl on the cover, OMG! how come I NEVER noticed this before and I have seen the cover a thousand times
    This is embarassing
    I am intrigued
    GREAT review
    Your reader,
    Soma R.

    1. Hey, you shouldn't! Because then I will feel bad about how long it took ME and I really would rather not.
      Thank you though, hope you get to read it and like it too :D

  2. I agree, the sundering and signals were also a bit confusing to me.. and the beginning WAS slow but I enjoyed it so much later! you are right about Ignifex! awesome review :)

    - Juhina @ Maji Bookshelf

    1. Thanks, yaaay we have the exact same opinion on a book! I feel like we should celebrate :3