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.
Debut author Rosamund Hodge spins a creative twist to the story that we all know and love, Beauty and the Beast (of course!). Cruel Beauty pretty much gives you the idea of the story, instead of the kind and giving heroine, we have one who is hateful and spiteful and pretty much all things negative. And yet, we grow to understand why she is the way she is.
Some years ago, Nyx's father made a bargain with the Gentle Lord and what it comes down to is that Nyx must marry him once she reaches seventeen. The choice came to it being Nyx or her sister Astraia and her father chose Nyx within a heartbeat. So already we can understand why Nyx is so hateful all the time. She resents her father and her sister. Then there's her aunt who is sleeping with her father, it's a secret but Nyx can help but delight in tormenting the two that she knows once she is being sent off to Ignifex's castle.
It was hard picturing Ignifex as a demon. Sure he had the slitted, red eyes, but he doesn't act demon-y. He's not necessarily our prince charming in disguise either, but he's an enjoyable character and he delights in Nyx's presence. He enjoys teasing her about her being his wife and pretty much comes off as a typical boy from high school. Then there's Shade who is a shadow of sorts, and he does come to life at night. Nyx starts to befriend him and seek a relationship with him. Her mission is to kill Ignifex, but she doesn't mind spending time with Shade and even believes that he could help her in her mission.
Rosamund is definitely an author to watch out for! She created quite the enthralling tale and wove in threads of Greek mythology as well into the tale so seamlessly that I can't really describe it. Her world-building skills are what one would hope for in a fantasy-esque story. Which does give way to a bit of confusion towards the end. I recall other bloggers mentioning this factoid and have to say that I fell a bit victim to it as well. It was sort of during the grand reveal, I was left stumbling to figure out where the answers came from. And eventually, I just kind of accepted it and the story moved further on.
The romance wasn't really something I was expecting either. We know that Nyx isn't the romantic type; she has to kill her husband after all. But then she finds herself growing use to him and even looking forward to their conversations or arguments. And then suddenly the romance just kind of blossoms. Then there's Shade and that makes things all sorts of messy. I was wondering if there was going to be a love triangle, but thankfully that's not the case. Especially since she kind of falls for Shade in ways before liking Ignifex.
The ending, as I said, is where things got a mite messy, but it was still enjoyable. I wasn't expecting what we got at all. I do have to give Rosamund much praise for throwing in little "Easter Eggs" of Beauty and the Beast surprises. Such as a magic mirror, but not in the way you would expect either. Needless to say Cruel Beauty was a very surprising and intriguing read that went beyond all my expectations! I am very much looking forward to reading more from this author!
Overall Rating 4/5 stars