Thursday, February 12, 2015

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.

I ignored this book for a while. The cover is visually stunning but I scrolled on by thinking, blah...paranormal romance...blah, but then seeing it pop up again and again on best of 2014 lists and properly pausing to read reviews from people I trust (like Angieville and Keertana of Ivy Book Bindings) had me reserving this baby from my library. 

Mate, I was sucked in and enveloped into this visually (well, in the mind's eye, haha) stunning, and utterly compelling read. This re-imagined fairy tale is lush and intricate and full of mysteries, sexual tension and unique mythology. 

I love how Hodge took a classic fairy tale and made it her own (adding in a slice of Greek mythology, as well). Nothing was as I expected, veering from Beauty and the Beast in creative ways to put a unique and unpredictable twist on things. The conflicts and character motivations were so well crafted. Nothing came easily, with dark and haunting mythology. The setting was richly portrayed, with a shifting maze of a castle (hidden passages and rooms and secrets within secrets which make the world Hodge created richer and more sophisticated than at first glance).

To elaborate on the sexual tension (always a stand-out feature if done well, haha): It's enigmatic and antagonistic. Both Ignifex and Nyx have conflicting interests/motivations. Nothing is straight up and the attraction between them is not just compelling to read due to their interactions (which are heated/funny/tense/daring/charming/deadly), but has added depth due to watching their struggles and growth as characters and knowing the sacrifices and secrets they hold. 

This book wins the up-all-night prize, keeping me turning pages into the squeaky hours of the morning, finishing with that rush you get from being completely absorbed by a good tale, leaving me with a book hangover (which ~ thankfully ~ only lasted until I got my hands on some of Hodge's short stories ~ but that's another tale for another time)

I loved this. And now I'm thrilled to have another title to be insanely excited to read in May this year, Crimson Bound, inspired by the classic fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood. Cannot wait!

Cruel Beauty @ goodreads
Rosamund Hodge's Website (short stories and more)


  1. It's hard to believe, but CRIMSON BOUND is even better! I, for one, loved it even more and I adored this book. So glad you finally picked it up, Nomes! :)

    1. Thanks mate! I am def crazily excited for Crimson Bound. Less than three months to wait now :)

  2. The way these two interact remind me a lot of how Kestrel and Arin are in THE WINNER'S CURSE (which I'm rereading because I HAVE to review it!). I, too, didn't pay much attention to this book until I saw it on Angie's site. Excellent review :D

    1. YES! You are right. I am about to have a quick reread of that book, too, in prep for the sequel :) Hope you are enjoying your reread

    2. Yay! The sequel is coming out soon so the wait is almost over! Thank you, and thanks again for commenting on my discussion post :)

  3. Have you read Juliet Marillier's Heart's Blood? That's the best Brauty And The Beast interpretation I've read although for a standard version you can't beat Robin McKinlay's Beauty. That one was gentle and funny and the sisters were nice. But I loved Heart's Blood, in which the Beast was a mediaeval Irish lord whose appearance is due to a childhood illness, but who does have a family curse. The heroine is a scribe, come to the castle for a summer's work after escaping her step family. It's set in a very specific era, too.

  4. "It's enigmatic and antagonistic." YES THIS. Loved this book so hard.

  5. So glad to see you loved this book! I've been reading such a mix of positive and negative reactions that I've kind of been wavering on whether or not I should give it a try. Your high praise for it definitely makes me want to read it now :D


Thanks for the commenty love :)