Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, YA
Release Date: January 28, 2014
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!~