Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge


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.

4.5 out of 5 stars

Gah, I love dark and gothic stories.  And when those elements are blended into a unique retelling of my favorite fairy tale, Beauty and the Beast???  I don't know why I wasn't all over this book the very second I heard about it.

Nyx is the chosen one.  Stemming from a selfish promise made by her father, the time comes when she must leave her family and marry Ignifex, the demon responsible for the death of her mother and the ruler of Arcadia.

What I like most about Nyx though, is that she doesn't wake up and live every day with an "I'm going to save the world and I'm going to do it with a smile" mentality.  She HATES her destiny, despises her father for getting her into this situation, and resents her sister for being able to live a carefree life.  In other words, she is hardly a Disney Princess.  Still, deep down inside she does truly loves her sister and the country she is pledged to save.  As such the battle between such conflicting emotions starts to festers in her heart until she begins to maybe even loathe herself a little bit.

Still, she does what she must and life as she knows it changes forever.

She is thrust into a world of shadows and demons.  Ignifex lives in a house that changes at will and a life filled with secrets -- secrets that tease and taunt with hints revealed at almost every turn.  As the days and nights pass and with every moment she spends with Ignifex and with his shadow, Shade, she learns that maybe things aren't always what they seem.  Maybe SHE isn't what she seems.  Maybe the entire world isn't what it seems.

Did I mention this story is dark and twisted?   And that is is so so so good?

I'd be remiss if I didn't talk about the relationship between Nyx and Ignifex.  From the moment Nyx walks into his house, she is determined to kill him - not exactly the recipe for a healthy marriage.  What she finds, however, is that even with the knowledge that he indirectly killed her mother, there is something there that pulls her to him.  Neither is what the other expected and the banter between the two characters is spectacular.  I love good snark almost as much as I love good swoon. 

Rosamund Hodge takes you on an emotional journey through a deliciously dark and thrilling world that I am already dying to reread.  Cruel Beauty is solidly in my top reads of the year - I'm calling it now.   

Thank you to Edelweiss and Balzer + Bray for allowing me to read Cruel Beauty in exchange for an honest review.


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  2. I am so happy that you loved this book!!