By: Melanie | January 9, 2014 | (33) Comments

Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund HodgeCruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Release Date: January 28, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, YA
Pages: 352
Source: Received in exchange for review
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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.

Fairytale retellings have always been a hit or miss for me and Cruel Beauty totally met my expectations. Cruel Beauty contains; a love story, a destiny and betrayal as well as one brilliantly constructed protagonist and love triangle–that I must admit was rather enjoyable than annoying.

Hundreds of years ago the country of Arcadia had been cursed and was controlled by demons and still has been ever since. The price of demons–The Gentle Lord is known for making bargains with desperate people, one in which is Nyx’s father. The Gentle Lord made a deal to give her father and mother two beautiful daughters, however he were to sacrifice one of them at the age of 17 to marry The Gentle Lord. And so the deal was made. However, The Gentle Lord is deceitful full of tricks, so upon giving birth two the twins, the mother dies. The two infants soon grew up, their names were Nyx, and Astraia. Nyx was born and groomed to the age of 17 to marry The Gentle Lord and die. Where her sister, was born to be loved and protected and treated like a princess by everyone.

I don’t think I’ve met a better protagonist, set in a fantasy world. For most of her life, Nyx has known that she was born to die, or to save Arcadia. Because of this, she is bitter and resentful, a flawed character. While she loves her innocent and always happy sister, she can’t help but despise Astraia for she gets to live a happy and at ease life. I really enjoyed this sisterly dynamic, the two go through their ups and downs but will always be looking out for each other in the end. Apart from her bitterness, Nyx is also blunt, strong and defiant. She tries to be a loving girl, just like her sister but her quick mouth and brewing anger in her heart fails to hide. Nyx was a well-rounded character, with a bit of good, but a bit of bad inside her. Who could ask for more?

The character the surprised me the most was The Gentle Lord. He tells Nyx to call him Ignifex, despite that not even being his real name. And every night, he gives her the opportunity to guess his real name, if she guesses right, she will win her freedom, if not, she will die. Ignifex gives her another rule, only enter rooms that you are permitted to, if not, you will die. Just like the other 8 wives before her. Even though, on surface Ignifex was a cruel and evil demon, we soon discover his cockiness and humour, and like Nyx, I began to like him more and more, even knowing he was someone that was not meant to be liked–or loved in Nyx’s case.

The reason why Cruel Beauty was not a flawless read for me was because of the romance. Don’t get me wrong, I did like it but the way some things began made me feel rather iffy about it and the word ‘love’ is used a little too quickly for my tastes. I wanted a more of a smoother start to the romance, because it began randomly when she kisses Shade after barely a day or two after meeting him.

Cruel Beauty is a perfect mix of Greek Mythology and fantasy, add some beautiful writing and it’s delightfully dark and fun. A thoroughly engaging read that I highly recommend.

~Thank you Balzer & Bray for sending me this copy!~

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Owner (and crazy nut) at YA Midnight Reads
Melanie is one of the totally fabulous bloggers at YA Midnight Reads. She's a 16 year old student from Melbourne, Australia. She is normally found binge watching TV series, reading , blogging, procrastinating or fangirling about how Percabeth is the best ship ever. She's also a lover of caps lock and uses it excessively.

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33 Responses to Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

  1. Shai W says:

    Wow, Nyx sounds like such an intricate character that I will like! It’s such a shame that there is some instant love though, but I will definitely be reading this when it releases!

    Love your review, Melanie :)

  2. Emily says:

    Now, unlike Defy, this one sounds like I absolutely have to read it!! I always LOVE Mythology and retellings of classic fairy tales!! And especially since all the characters sound completely badass and intriguing 😉
    Fantastic review, Mel!! <33 😀
    Emily recently posted…Making Friends in the BlogsphereMy Profile

  3. Second attempt, my first comment was eaten by internet..

    I loved this book. I agree that the sister-dynamic was fascinating :) The romance was definitely a bit quick, but I shipped them so hard I didn’t mind, haha.
    Mel@thedailyprophecy recently posted…FF 24. What I look for in book boyfriends.My Profile

  4. I’m not big on quick romances usually, but sometimes it’s not a huge deal. At any rate, this sounds really great regardless.
    ShootingStarsMag recently posted…The Wobbit by The Harvard LampoonMy Profile

  5. I’m so happy you enjoyed this one! I gave it three stars and I totally know what you mean by the romance. it definitely developed too quickly for my tastes, but I’m happy that you loved Nyx and Ignifex’s characters. I found Nyx’s character kind of annoying with how she kept fighting herself but I can see how you liked that aspect. Fantastic review, Mel! <33
    Eileen @ Singing and Reading in the Rain recently posted…Me After You by Mindy HayesMy Profile

  6. I really enjoyed this one although I did have some issues with it, most notably the use of love too early (I see you had that same issue) and the ending. I felt like the ending was confusing and I still don’t think I get what it’s all about. I need to get your take on what actually happened there. The world was fantastic though and the main character was brilliant. I loved how she wasn’t fake in any way and didn’t pretend to be “holier than thou” when it came to giving up her life.
    Lovely review, Mel!
    Nick @ Nick’s Book Blog recently posted…Blog Tour Stop : Branded by Abi KetnerMy Profile

  7. I enjoyed this one as well, though I would have liked some more world building. The backstory is really fascinationg, and I loved the characters. Ignifix and Nyx are two great characters. I love how real and complex they are.
    Kris (Imaginary Reads) recently posted…Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund HodgeMy Profile

  8. I am happy you enjoyed this despite the romance. The world and characters sound wonderful. This has been on my wishlist and I look forward to reading it!
    kimbacaffeinate recently posted…Darkest Day by Emi GayleMy Profile

  9. Celine says:

    I just commented on your Goodreads review and now I see that it was actually already up on your blog, haha.

    The love triangle was indeed unique (I don’t think this has ever been done before?) and I thought the concept of it was rather okay. I really wasn’t a fan of the romance(s) though :( That kiss with Shade was TOTALLY random. I still don’t understand why she suddenly decided to kiss him, but oh well.

    Again I say, great review, Mel! <3
    Celine recently posted…ARC Review: Heartbeat by Elizabeth ScottMy Profile

  10. I can’t wait to start this one! I’ll probably be reading it next week and this is the second great review I have read for it today. I’m very excited now. :)
    sarabara081 @ Forever 17 Books recently posted…Review: Evertrue (Everneath #3) by Brodi AshtonMy Profile

  11. Stephanie B says:

    Oh wow. This novel sounds amazing. LOVELY review, Mel! Now I must simply read this one.
    Stephanie B recently posted…Review: The Madman’s DaughterMy Profile

  12. Rachel says:

    A love triangle you actually liked?! I have to say that gets my attention. Lately even the thought of one gives me hives! Fairytale type stories are hit and miss for me as well, but I’ll have to check this out seeing as you enjoyed it so much. Great review, Melanie! :)
    Rachel recently posted…Review: The Shadow Reader (The Shadow Reader #1) by Sandy WilliamsMy Profile

  13. So far this is getting some positive reviews which I am happy to hear as I will be reviewing this soon. I can handle a shaky romance if there are strong characters, good world building and most of all gorgeous writing. Thanks for the insight!
    Heidi@Rainy Day Ramblings recently posted…Review: Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren MorrillMy Profile

  14. Charlotte says:

    I agree to a lot of your points, Mel. Nyx was really a great heroine especially that she can’t help harboring bad feelings for her family even if she wanted so hard to be good. I especially enjoyed those scenes when she acts like a scorned b–ch to her sister then regret them afterwards. Hehehe.

    And re: Ignifex, I can’t help but sympathize with him. Well, he was presented as this really evil demon but once you get to know him, he’s just awesome. At some point, I even think that Nyx and her family are more evil than him.

    Lovely review!
    Charlotte recently posted…Double Standards On ReadingMy Profile

  15. Thanks for sharing this wonderful review. I’m really glad you liked Cruel Beauty because I am dying to read this one. I love fairytale retellings and just can’t wait to read this one. It sounds like I will love it too.
    Rochelle Sharpe recently posted…Spotlight Sunday: Review ‘Only Ever Always’ by Penni RussonMy Profile

  16. Megan says:

    I’ve read a lot of good reviews of this one. I think Nyx is a character I’d really get along with and I’m usually a fan of retellings.
    Megan recently posted…Review: CinderMy Profile

  17. I love Beauty and the Beast! I have this one but I haven’t been able to fit in in yet which sucks because I also love fairytale retellings. I’ve seen some reviews on this one that make me think I would really like this one :)
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  18. I was a bit more mixed on this one. I loved the world building and story but Nyx didn’t hit me right. I had so much trouble connecting with her. I did love the Gentle Lord’s character. Great review! I love reading opinions about this book since it seems that people really really love it or feel as I do…mixed. But, I’ve yet to see a single person that hated it.
    Kristen@My Friends Are Fiction recently posted…Review of Into the Still Blue by Veronica RossiMy Profile

  19. Alise says:

    I am SO glad you liked this one, it it a huge relief because I’m just about to start it and have my doubts. Fantasy is my favorite genre and the protagonist sounds amazing, I love a strong hero.
    Alise recently posted…Review: Divergent by Veronica RothMy Profile

  20. Sounds amazing Mel! I can’t wait to read Cruel Beauty, it’s in my Kindle ready to start up :) Can’t wait to pick this one up! But arghgh, the fated insta love. *sighs*
    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence recently posted…Unbroken by Rachel Caine Review: And…that’s how it’s doneMy Profile

  21. Great review, Mel! I literally just finished this and LOVED it too. I had the same itty problems with the romance, I was mainly bothered by Shade. He just was off to me, liked. Said the kissing began. A bit early, but it loved Ignifex…or, grew to love his character along with Nyx. All the mythology was amazing too! I know u love mythology as much as I do 😉
    I was also happy it was a stand alone
    Diamond Dee @ Dee’s Reads recently posted…Stacking the Shelves #32My Profile

  22. Pili says:

    I’m always a bit iffy about retelling and a lot iffy about love triangles, but this sounds like it was done in a good way, so I think I’ll have to make sure it doesn’t slide too far back in the TBR list!
    Also, the fact that Greek myths are present is a total bonus for me, even if I’m not sure how or why you’d mix them with Beauty & the Beast!
    Pili recently posted…Friday Reads: Mini Review: Howling For You by Chloe Neill!My Profile

  23. Giselle says:

    I felt the same about the romance – the word love just came out of nowhere it felt. I did not feel like they were even in love. I also found a lot of the info dumps overwhelming and confused the heck out of me. Still, I loved the writing and world building kind of blew my mind. Glad you liked it, chickie!
    Giselle recently posted…Review: Cress by Marissa MeyerMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Are you referring to the info dumps of Greek Myths? I guess it didn’t bother me since I’m all nerdy over greek mythology but I see why many others would be confused. Oh! Talking about confused, that ending was well, CONFUSING.

  24. I started this one but stopped for a while. I do agree that the writing was really good, something I haven’t seen from others before, although it sometimes has a tendency to beat around the bush haha. I liked Nyx as well but the romance kind of exhausted me. I need to reread ti though… it’s been a while.
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  25. I really enjoyed Cruel Beautyand like you thought it was a great mix of Greek Mythology and fantasy. In fact, I was a bit surprised on how much she incorporated a few tradition fairy tales into Cruel Beauty. Rosamund Hodge can definitely write vividly and beautiful descriptive scenes (I loved the house and all it’s strange little rooms.) Wonderful review, Melanie. :)

  26. Retellings are always 50-50 for me too. But I am so happy this one turned out good. I am looking forward to it.
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  27. I am currently reading this book, so I skimmed part of the review. I was looking for your rating, and it’s not there, why?! But you did like this book, so I’m thinking I’m safe with my choice to read this book. #
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