Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

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Title: Cruel Beauty
Author: Rosamund Hodge
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retellings
Format: Hardcover, 346 pages
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: January 28th, 2014
Buy links: Book depository | Amazon US | Amazon UK
Link to Goodreads
Goodreads Summary:

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.

4stars

Cruel Beauty is a perfect mix of darkness and a twisted tale of forbidden love and betrayal. Nothing like Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, but it still has some references. It’s its own story and has its own tale, which was quite magical and mixed with Greek mythology.

Nyx is the female protagonist and nothing like Belle in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Nyx has, as she calls it, poison in her heart. She is bitter and in no way selfless to a point where it’s unbelievable. She’s betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom due to a bargain her father has made when she wasn’t even born. If I were her, I would be bitter about it, too.
She’s determined to bring down the Gentle Lord and free her kingdom, but along the way she finds herself drawn to him and eventually fall in love.

This story is about choices. Will you choose love over freedom? Is there even a choice to make? Nyx has to decide between freeing her kingdom or loving her sworn enemy. Hodge has written this struggle and it’s great to read. It’s about sacrifices and betrayal, will she choose one thing it’ll lead to betraying the other.

I had no idea what to expect and Cruel Beauty definitely took me by surprise, mostly because I had Disney’s version in my head. I loved the darker twist to it and the Greek mythology. Sometimes I was a little bit confused, especially at the end, but it got explained after all and it came beautifully together.
The great thing about it was that Nyx is so brutally honest with herself and embraces her flaws, but lies to others. Ignifex, the male protagonist, could eventually see through that and I loved that. He started to care about her and saw her for who she truly was. They both tried to make things right.

Rosamund Hodge has written a gorgeous love story about a timeless tale. It was great to get to know another side of one of my favorite fairy tales.

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