Title: Cruel Beauty
Author: Rosamund Hodge
Publisher: Balzer and Bray
Release Date: January 28th, 2014
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
~ 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.
~ ~ ~ ~
This book took me entirely by surprise – I almost didn’t even get it. I haven’t really heard anyone talk about it and on Goodreads it has a 3.7 rating. At first I was even a little iffy while reading it, but somewhere after chapter like eight, I reached the point of no return and I feel whole-heartedly in love with this novel.
Cruel Beauty is a re-telling of Beauty and the Beast, which is very done very loosely. Nyx is taken into Ignifex’s home, and the whole Stockholm syndrome thing is there, but Ignifex is a demon trapped in his way of life because of the “people” that control him. I LOVE Beauty and the Beast, so naturally that is why I decided to read this. The theme is done very well, and I appreciate the avoidance on insta-love although it is hard for me to see why Nyx all of a sudden is head over heels for Ignifex. Yeah, he’s described as being gorgeous and charming, but he’s a demon that she has spent her entire life training to kill. Other than what I just explained, Nyx and Ignifex’s relationship is the most beautiful thing. They remind me a lot of Rhysand and Ferye if that is any indication. I love them so much, and they may be one of my favorite book couples ever.
As for character development, it may be some of the best I have seen in a while, which may be because I am reading a lot of series lately so they develop more slowly. I thought Nyx was a great character because she starts out so distanced and callous, but you can see when she gets to the castle, she begins to settle into herself and forget more of her problems which makes her less cold and stony. For Ignifex, I loved his character from beginning to end. He was crafted so well – every aspect of him was so great for a lovable demon man. I loved his snarky flirting; that was probably my favorite part of the book.
I don’t want to include any spoilers, so I am only going to briefly talk about Shade. I just really thought about his character a lot while reading this – probably because I was trying to imagine a shadow on a wall coming to life and interacting with Nyx, but he was super complex and there was a lot of meaning to him. And if you read the book and remember the ending, I love how his character and Ignifex’s are relative to each other, it was such an interesting concept.
The plot, from beginning to end, was crazy interesting. it was such an emotional rollercoaster from witnessing Nyx’s life and her constant heartbreak in the beginning, to the ending that rips your soul to shreds. I wish there was a sequel so I could see more of the world because there is a lot of strange facets to it that I would like to learn more about like the paper sky and floating garden.
Also, I just want to say that the ending of this book may or may not make you cry until you can’t breathe – take that as a warning. I cry a lot, but I don’t think I cried so hard reading a book in a long time until I read this. I thought it was very well done, and though I believe it’s a standalone, it made me want so much more of Ignifex and Nyx – I was so not ready to give them up.
I would highly recommend this book to any reader – it has a lot for anyone. There’s a lot of action and adventure, there’s even some suspense, and it’s a little spooky, plus there’s obviously a great romance.