Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Cruel Beauty {by Rosamund Hodge}

Title: Cruel Beauty
Author: Rosamund Hodge
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble

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 loved this book. It was a beautiful, imaginative, different, gorgeous retelling. Of course, having my two favorite things (Greek mythology and fairy tale retelling), I was probably destined to love it. Add in that gorgeous cover, and I was sold.

First off, I will say that this book may not be for everyone. I know many people who love it as much as I do, some who were torn, and some who don't like it. (Guess which category I fall into.) If you are going to read this book, you must go into it with an open mind. I think the problem is, people see that this is a Beauty and the Beast retelling, and they go into it thinking Belle. You can't do that. Belle is kind, caring, compassionate, loving, and sweet. Nyx is not. I mean, just think about the fact that her name is Nyx (and what it means), and realize that she is the exact opposite of Belle. If you can get past that, you'll be fine.

I am a huge sucker for Greek mythology in anything. This story was full of it, and that's what made me love it from the start. (Actually, the beginning of this reminded me less of Beauty and the Beast and more of Cupid and Psyche. Or am the only one here nerdy enough to get that?) I will say that the beginning might be a little slow, because of all the world-building. But every name, reference, or anecdote that was mythology-inspired just made me happy. (I have a problem. And I'm perfectly okay with it.)

Nyx is...different. She isn't your normal heroine (and definitely nothing like Belle). She resents her family, but she hates herself for it. She wonders if maybe she has a little bit of evil inside her too. She knows she is imperfect, flawed. In fact, she doesn't even think she's that good of a person. And that's completely different. I realize that this is where some people had problems with her, but I didn't.

All the characters were written beautifully. Each had their developments, their own personality. I loved Ignifex, and the relationship he and Nyx have. It's rocky in the beginning, and I realize the build-up didn't make complete sense (as in, there wasn't really much of it), but I did like it. The love triangle, if that's what it can be called, was well-done. It didn't make me want to hurl the book or hit the characters over the head. It was resolved in a way that worked beautifully for the story and the characters. 

The writing was just beautiful. It was flowed perfectly with the story. I loved how she made the house come to life, the magical elements, and the mythology seamlessly ingrained into the story. It was just really amazing, especially for a debut author and I can't wait to read more from her.

I will say, the ending had me...well, like this.

Because everyone needs some J-Law in their life.
I was kind of confused at the last part. Nyx suddenly finds out everything out and understands all the things, except we don't really go with her. It climaxes and ends pretty quickly, and I was confused as to what was happening. But that would be the only criticism I have for this book.

So would I recommend this story? Absolutely. It is such a beautifully written, different retelling. In fact, I know that's what it claims, but it was so unique that it almost doesn't seem like it was a retelling. I loved it. Hopefully you do as well.

I received an ARC as a gift from another blogger, because she's awesome.

This review can also be found on   Rachel Marie's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)

Rosamund Hodge:

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