Saturday, 18 January 2014

Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Title: Cruel Beauty
Author: Rosamund Hodge
Release date: January 28th 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy/Mythology
Format: eARC
Pages: 218
Source: Edelweiss

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.

Cruel Beauty is nothing like what I expected, and it definitely knocked my socks off. Go into this one with a very open mind, because you're going to get a lot of surprises! I didn't even know there was Greek mythology infused within the story, and I loved the way it's done. Though this is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, it's definitely not as simple as that.

Nyx has a mission, one that was made known to her since she was nine - destroy the Gentle Lord and save the kingdom of Arcadia. But she's always known she wouldn't make it back alive. Her father made a bargain with the Lord, and Nyx has to marry him. Though it gives her a chance to get close enough to kill him, will she even want to once she gets to know him? In his castle, she discovers secrets she never could have imagined, and the future of Arcadia and her husband, as well as that of her own, hangs on a thread.

I absolutely adored Rosamund Hodge's writing. It's descriptive, imaginative, and very vivid. The entire novel is beautifully written, and even the historical aspects and tales had this spark to them that captured my interest. The complexity in this book never failed to amaze me as I read my way through it. At times it's definitely hard to wrap your head around, especially the paradoxical elements, but I managed it and it made me love the book all the more.

Cruel Beauty is aptly named, as it could refer to both protagonists. I really liked Nyx, for a number of reasons. She's refreshingly honest, and doesn't shy away from her thoughts, no matter how much she doesn't want to think that way. Nyx isn't insufferably good like most YA heroines have to be, and that made her easier to relate to. She's definitely got poison in her heart, as mentioned a few times in the novel, but I loved her character for the most part . There were aspects of her I couldn't bring myself to like, but I won't mention them since they may be spoilery.

I definitely liked Ignifex, though I have to admit that name is a little off-putting. He's charming and funny, and very easy-going most of the time. I won't deny he's done a lot of evil things, but we do find out the reasons behind everything later on. What I did have a problem with was the romance. I didn't find it believable enough for me, and it seemed very sudden. There wasn't much of a build-up, and that disappointed me because it's my favourite part of a romance. But regardless of this, I did like Nyx and Ignifex together.

Hodge's world-building has got to be one of the best I've ever come across. The mix of fantasy and mythology is unique enough, but the fantastical elements added in later are unbelievable! The plot grows very complex and the fact that I didn't lose my way through all of it shows how great the writing is. I loved that we get a backstory behind everything, and we aren't left in the dark for too long. The whole story behind the shadows and the Children of Typhon fascinated me, and I once again have to reiterate my admiration for Hodge's imaginative writing.

From reading this review it's probably clear to everyone that I loved this debut. Cruel Beauty has an originality to it that you can't tell just from the synopsis. There's so much more to it. I hope this stays as a standalone, because I think it works best that way. I know there's a companion novella coming out, based on Cinderella, and after this one I'm eagerly awaiting it. Cruel Beauty is a must-read for all fantasy and mythology lovers out there! The intricate plot twists and strong characters will definitely make you fall in love with this book.

*Thank you to HarperCollins for providing me with an eARC for review*

Rating: 4/5


  1. Yay! Hehe, I liked this one as well. I can't wait for the companion novella! Great review :)

  2. Awesome review :D I'm so happy that you liked this one. <3 I loved it. So so good. Cannot wait to read more from this author :)


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