09 Jan2014

Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

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

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My Review

I was raised to marry a monster.

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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Melanie

Owner (and crazy nut) at YA Midnight Reads
Melanie is one of the totally fabulous bloggers at YA Midnight Reads. She's a 15 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

    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

    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 :D
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  3. Eileen @ Singing and Reading in the Rain

    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
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  4. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    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!
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    • Melanie

      Nick, I was also rather confused about the ending. I went looking around on GR and a lot of others were confused to :|

  5. Celine

    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
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  6. Charlotte

    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!
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  7. Megan

    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.
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  8. Kristen@My Friends Are Fiction

    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.
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  9. Diamond Dee @ Dee's Reads

    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
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  10. Pili

    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!
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  11. Giselle

    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!
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    • Melanie

      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.

  12. Faye @ The Social Potato

    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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  13. Kim { Book Swoon }

    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. :)